Tuesday, November 30, 2010

"Christmas Farm"

It's that time of year!

It's the time that my boy and I load up on Christmas reading material. There over 30 Christmas books in our bin by the fireplace for him to read and look through whenever he likes. These are the books that I have collected, most of which came from thrift stores. You should see me light up when I find a new $16 book for $1! Thrift stores are a treasure trove of new books if you know where to look.

But besides those books, we load up at the library as well. And yesterday we picked out a gem.

I'm definitely going to have to buy a copy of this one.

"Christmas Farm" by Mary Lyn Ray, illustrated by Barry Root*

Oh, what a little gem of a book.

Charming illustrations and a fantastic little story about a lady who grows Christmas trees to sell. For my boy, who is currently into all things that can be counted, hearing page after page of how many seedlings survived yet another winter to grow taller, how many trees were bought, how old the neighbor boy was becoming -- this was a perfect book. I'm a book lover, it's no secret, but this little book just really seemed to tug at all of my heartstrings and really sang to me. If I could climb into the pages, believe me, the boy and I would!

Just thought I'd share, in case you have a little someone you'd like to read this one to. Or even if you don't, maybe you might enjoy it yourself. Be sure and check your local library to see if there's a copy you can borrow.

*image found here

Monday, November 29, 2010

Git yer jingle bells on.

Because I'm a professional pianist...

I thought you all might enjoy this little Christmas ditty by the fabulous Ferrante and Teicher. You've probably heard their other famous Christmas tunes of "Sleigh Ride" and "Jingle Bells", but this one is a new favorite of mine, a fun Brazilian twist on Christmas.

Hope you're all getting in the spirit of the season!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving, my friends!

Today I have much to be thankful for...

*a stress-free turkey roasting experience (no repeats of last year, thank goodness, although if you missed out on that story, you'll want to click over for a few good laughs at my expense)

*a husband who cheerfully hung curtains last night in two rooms even though he probably didn't feel like it

*an early morning wake-up call to get Tom the Turkey ready for lunch (also a blessing in disguise since I have to wake up very early the next two mornings for work)

*some quiet, uninterrupted, early morning sewing (since I was up anyway!)

*freezing cold and cloudy weather (my favorite for Thanksgiving!)

*a clean house

*Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade!!!! (which I WILL attend in person someday)

*family coming over for the feast

...and of course, so very many more blessings as I could go on and on and on. The Lord's been good to me.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Still thankful...

Day 21:

I am thankful for my sewing machine.

Oh man, am I ever.

It is not fancy. It was about $300, maybe less, almost nine years ago (a combined b-day gift from my parents and my brand-new husband, mere weeks after we were married). It is not computerized. But it does exactly what I need it to, and it rarely gives me grief. You could say we are BFF's.

Thank you, little Huskystar 224. I {heart} you.

*image found here.

Day 22:

I am thankful for a wood-burning fireplace! Woohoo! It is supposed to be freeeeeezing here tomorrow, and I can't wait to have a fire in the fireplace to keep us nice and toasty. Our old house didn't have a wood-burning fireplace, so that's exciting for us.

Day 23:

I am thankful for my super-always-healthy kid. Seriously, we go to the doctor once a year for a checkup. That's it.

Day 24:

I am thankful for TURKEY BRINE!!! Heck yes, as we speak, my house officially smells like Williams-Sonoma Thanksgiving, thanks to their expensive jar o' brine mix that I purchase every year (this is officially my fourth year of turkey roasting, folks!). Saves me time and effort and assures me that I will end up with a dripping, juicy bird. Gobble, gobble!

*I would've linked to the jar, but they sell out every year. I've gotten into the habit of purchasing my brine sometimes as early as Halloween to ensure that I have a jar. And while we're on the subject, I'm also thankful for Ziploc brand XL bags. For $6 a box, I can get four bags (lasting me four years) of the exact same size bag that Williams-Sonoma packages as their "brining bags". Williams-Sonoma, however, charges $16 for a set of two large and two small bags, which only last me two years. Thank you for the savings, Ziploc!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Day 20

Today I am thankful for gorgeous Oklahoma sunsets.

Say what you will about my home state, but there aren't too many other states that can surpass mine in beautiful sunsets.

This is an untouched photo of an amazing sunset we enjoyed in mid-October up north of T-Town.

I remember when I was in college the kids from other states and other countries constantly remarked about the sunsets. It's true. We enjoy the brightest oranges, the most vivid pinks and reds and luscious purples, and it seems like we enjoy them quite often.

How about you?

Are there beautiful sunsets all the time where you live?

Friday, November 19, 2010

Day 19

Today I am thankful -- VERY thankful -- for our local library system.

I've been a big fan of the library my whole life. Throughout my childhood, my parents took my brother and I to the big downtown library. I loved getting the parking ticket stamped, the giant (or at least, giant to me) reading room for story time, picking out videos and records (ah, back in the day), looking through the paintings (did you know our library used to have framed artwork you could check out, take home, and hang up on the wall?! I was never able to get my parents to agree to do it unfortunately), and the smell. Oh, the smell -- a smell of old and books and a pinch of imagination. Sometimes I go to the downtown branch simply because I love that wave of nostalgia that washes over me from entering the building and that first whiff of library.

As an adult, I've continued to be a library connoisseur. I am there at least once or twice a week, and it makes me feel good that my boy and I are on a first-name basis with the staff. Love that. I've dropped Netflix and avoided Redbox because the library is my main movie source. New music? Find it at the library. New books? You get the picture...

Anyway, this was a GREAT library week. See that stack on my nightstand?

No, really. Check it out. ALL of that crafty goodness.

I added up this stack to see what it would total me at my local Border's bookstore.

Borders = $186.36

My library = FREE

All of that FREE inspiration, just waiting on my nightstand to be devoured. Library, I HEART you.

Thursday, November 18, 2010


Did I say I was going to post something every day? Niiiiiiiiiiiice.

Looks like a messed that one up! I actually had some posts started but forgot to set them to publish. And I didn't even finish 'em anyway -- guess that would've helped? So here is another little catch-up post.

Day 13:

I am thankful for more TIME AT HOME to accomplish things around the house. After moving at the beginning of September, I was barely home for over a month, and we have lived in partial chaos that whole time. Unpacking and setting up the store at my new job only to come home to an unpacked house as well? A big ol' can of stressful, folks, that's what that is. So I am thankful for this free time I've been enjoying more of lately. (So this is the apology for no blog posts as of late, although I'm happy to report I've been accomplishing a lot with my time even if I haven't been posting.)

Day 14:

I am thankful for a new craft space. Sure, I have to share it with the laundry, but since that's one of the only chores I actually enjoy, I find it soothing to create next to the whir and hum of the washer and dryer. Plus, it smells nice, haha. And I have a great view because of all of the windows.

As you can see from the photo, I am using what used to be our kitchen island as my new worktable. Counter height workspace? LOVE that. I would like to get a new lamp for the table since the lighting at night is atrocious (no overhead light at all), but all in good time...

Day 15:

I am thankful for my quilting bees. This week I've been working on blocks for the other members, and it got me thinking about how the two quilting bees I participate in are partially responsible for teaching me lots of new quilting skills. Now I'm not intimidated anymore by some of those techniques.

This was the block I made for Jacquie, a tall order in my book since she is a bit well-known in the online quilting world, and I must admit, I was a bit intimidated about making her a block. She asked for mid-century modern house squares, and that's what she got! I really enjoyed churning this little one out. I hope she likes it.

Day 16:

I am thankful for our cars. I know, seems like a funny one to mention, but keep in mind we don't have new cars. In a world where most of my friends and family seem to be sporting fancy newer pimped-out rides, I'm grateful for our cars. One is almost 14 years old, and the other is almost 8 years old, and both are still running with no issues. I'm thankful for no car payments and no relationship with a mechanic since our cars never need anything other than basic oil changes and occasional tuneups (and new tires every so often). They get us where we need to go. Thanks, cars! (And way to go, Toyota. We {heart} Toyota.)

Day 17:

I am thankful for the gorgeousness around me -- fall here in T-Town is beautiful this year! So many vibrant colors everywhere you look! And I will tell you the truth -- every single beautiful tree I see really does point me straight to God and His amazing creations. I love that each tree has been a good reminder for me to thank Him for the beauty we are enjoying.

I snapped these pics just the other day from my front porch. Such beautiful colors on my own street.

Day 18:

I am thankful for accomplishments! Like I mentioned in Day 13, I've gotten a few projects crossed off the list (finally). Check out my little guy's bedroom. It's finally done, and I am really happy with it. (Well, minus the lack of bedskirt. Must find bedskirt ASAP.) For a tiny little space, I think it is so darling! I was going for a hodgepodge of "classic little boy room", and I think it looks pretty good.

I worked completely with what we already had:

*the iron bed (there's also another) had been stored in the garage
*the paintings above the bed are all from our Guatemala pick-up trip to bring our son home, and he's pretty proud of those "Gualamala" pictures above him
*the "N" used to be gold and sat in my closet for years, and since my son's actual first name starts with an "N", it's appropriate (he goes by his middle name)
*the denim curtains were in the playroom in our old house -- I simply chopped them off to make them a bit shorter
*the sheer curtains were in the guest room in our old house, and since I put the labor into those suckers, they came with us (I made them years ago from Ikea curtain panels that I cut down and pinch-pleated, a true labor of love)
*the pennant flags on the windows are partially from my father-in-law (the school ones) and the travel pennants I had bought a year ago at an antique shop and saved for a good project; I simply stitched them together using embroidery floss in the corners, and stitched black ribbons at the ends to tie them up to the curtain rods
*the spinning colored disco ball was bought for $10 by my husband at an antique mall, and it is probably one of my boy's favorite things in the room (it is an exciting night when he has earned the right to fall asleep with the colors spinning around the room!)
*the armoire was previously holding our electronic equipment for the TV in our other house, and it now serves as a second closet space

Hmmmmm, now what will I be thankful for tomorrow?

Friday, November 12, 2010

Day 12

Today I am thankful for...

my friends.

And to be more specific for this post:

my Bunco* friends.

I am thankful for this Motley Crue, rag-tag bunch that we are.

When my husband and I first moved back to my hometown (six-and-a-half years ago), it was a strange feeling for me. I was moving back to everything familiar, and yet, I didn't know too many people. Not very many of my friends still lived here, so it was the same typical story of moving to a new place and having to make new friends. A friend of mine invited me to her Bunco group, and the rest was history.

I didn't know any of these girls to start out (except for the one who invited me). We all lived on opposite sides of the city, and we all came from different walks of life, schools, churches, etc. But the one thing we did all have in common was God. And that was enough to gel us as a group. And over the course of six years, these girls have become more and more important to me, especially since they've walked through life with me. When times were rough -- my grandparents and dad passing away, all of the adoption drama, etc. -- these girls were such a stronghold for me. You name it -- we've walked through it as a group, supporting each other through so much good and the occasional bad. So now, six years later, we've got history. The type of history that truly binds friends together.

In that span of six years, our group has grown, shrunk (down to where we would meet and go to the movies if we didn't have enough people to play), and grown again. We now have a bit more order as far as scheduling a year in advance for who will be the hostess every month, but we still are nice and laidback, not requiring substitutes if you are gone (playing with ghosts), etc. The themes of each month seem to have gotten more and more creative as well, and we have so much fun together. We may only see each other once a month, but that is once a month I never want to miss.

I love my Bunco girls.

For your viewing pleasure, here are pics from last night's tea-party themed Bunco. Sooooooo much fun to get dressed up. And believe it or not, I think this was my very first real tea party to attend (other than the ones with stuffed animals as a kid, haha). There was great food, lots of teas to sample with special German sugar to add in, and we each got to take home our own cup and saucer. In fact, it was so much fun that half of us didn't even roll the dice and just enjoyed catching up on life, haha. What a fun evening!

*Side note: which is the true spelling -- Bunco or B-u-n-k-o? Drives me crazy every time I write it because I was always a spelling champ and not knowing the true way to spell something drives me nuts. The Internet search wasn't conclusive as I found it spelled both ways. Grr....

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Count Your Blessings

Halloween wore me out.

This fall has been exhausting.

My blog has been suffering.

But I'm never too tired to be thankful and show it.

So let's do a little catch-up, shall we?

For November, I will join in and post something I'm thankful for each day. Since today is already the 11th (oops), I've got a BIG list to write today...

Day ONE:

I am thankful for a roof over my head. Whether or not I own that roof doesn't matter. Whether or not that roof is my dream roof doesn't matter. As I found out in September, the Lord's plans for us were so much bigger than what I had dreamed up -- silly me, thinking I could control everything. Thank you, Lord, for the roof over our heads that we absolutely love.

Day TWO:

I am thankful for a job. Err, three jobs. Especially in an economy where this is harder and harder to find. With lots of friends (and relatives) on the prowl for employment, I feel very thankful. And this third job, the dream Anthropologie job, where I thought it would be mostly for the discount that I was working? Again, the Lord is good to me. I've not been spending my paychecks after all, and they've in fact helped pay the bills, taking pressure off of my husband and allowing us to save more.


I am thankful for a financial overhaul over the past year. And saving. And spending less. Which, in case you were wondering, feels very, very freeing. Who needs a houseful of crap anyway? ;)


I am thankful for my husband. A support, an encourager, spontaneous, full of fun, hilarious, just the right amount of nerdy (can't compete with my own personal amount of nerdiness), an extremely hands-on dad (er, Papa, that's what we call 'em in our house), a protector, a provider, and best friend. To top it all off, he puts up with me. True love.


I am thankful for my pets. They provide unconditional love (well, as long as we feed them, I suppose), and it is the best thing to walk in the door after work and find lots of wagging tails and purring bellies happy to see me. If owning a pet makes a person live longer, well, I'd say my family is set! Six animals to love us every single day.

(Harry, on the right, and Sally, on the left)

(the Italian greyhounds demonstrating a true "dogpile" - Romeo on the bottom, Tex and Minnie Pearl on the top; and sorry for no pic of our fourth dog, Mazi)

Day SIX:

I am thankful for my boy. I could go on and on about how he is the greatest kid I know, and although, yes, I'm his mama and a tad biased, I actually know several people who would back me up on this. He's kind and oh-so-compassionate, well-behaved, grateful, respectful to adults, caring to our pets, and almost always obedient. He's funny, a fantastic healthy eater, he's gorgeous (sorry, but he is, and oh, those dimples), and he loves to hear about Jesus and Bible stories. Throw in just a handful of mischief and naughtiness, and you've got yourself an awesome kid. What more could a mama ask for?

(the little man and I, Halloween 2009)


I am thankful for 2010. This probably sounds like a strange thing to be grateful for, but at the beginning of the year, I was praying that 2010 would be a nice, quiet year -- no big changes, everything just chucking along like clockwork. Boy, was I wrong, and boy, did we ever get the opposite. This has been a crazy year for us, full of lots of surprising changes, lots of attacks on our little family from Satan (sorry, if you think I'm weird for typing it, but I know it's true), and just nothing like we expected it to be. But you know what? These changes have ended up being just what we needed (duh, I know, God always knows better than I), and it's ending up being a great year after all. So, thanks for 2010.


I am thankful for more radio and less TV. Ha! But it's true. I'm down to just a very few select shows I watch, and with the radio on more often, I've been getting more accomplished and just feeling more balanced in general. Don't get me wrong, it's really more me listening to the radio than my guys, but it's been great for me not to feel so zapped from the boob tube. And I'm proud to say that my five-year-old only watches about 30 minutes of TV a few days a week. Yay for less TV! Although this is not to say that I could live WITHOUT the TV quite yet. Nope, not ready for that.


I am thankful for kindergarten. My boy has a great teacher, a little classroom filled with new friends and diversity (for which I am very thankful), and he has learned so much in just a few short months already. He went from counting to 10 to counting to 100, recognizing and writing every single one of his letters, and starting to spell and read. He loves the cafeteria food and cafeteria ladies, calls the principal "Mrs. President", and eats a good breakfast with his classmates every morning. And thank goodness for "green faces" ("green faces" = good behavior) every day. Er, most every day. So far, so GREAT.

(my guys walking to school the first morning of kindergarten 2010)

Day TEN:

I am thankful for double chocolate chip pumpkin muffins. Oh, heavens. So grateful that I have already made two big batches of them this season (most of which may or may not have gone to my own thighs). And I'm sure I will be making them again before the Christmas season starts, especially since I've already got the ingredients in my pantry for two more batches. I just can't help it.


I am thankful for veterans. I have a brother-in-law in the Army. My dad was in the Army. And I have several friends that are veterans. It seems so cliche to say I am thankful for them today, but I really am, and I've been thinking about the sacrifices of all of the veterans a lot lately. My boy is currently into all things "Army mans" (and has been for over a year), and if you ask him what he wants to be when he grows up, these days his answer is consistently "an Army man". So I've also been a good mom and watching a some of the military channel on TV with him as well, and it has been a great reminder of what a sacrifice each of these soldiers make for the rest of us. We've taught him to go up to military that we might see in public and say "thank you". And let me tell you -- for a mama that rarely tears up, that's a surefire way to get the teary eyes, to see your little man proudly walk up and tell a serviceman or woman thank you for serving and "keeping us safe"!

(my son's birthday cake from April 2010 -- it was a little "Army mans" party with the family, of course!)

On a lighter note, I am also soooooooooo thankful for not having to go in to work today! I called in and got the green light for a day off. And I vow to make this day a productive one, so with that being said -- see ya' tomorrow...