Thursday, December 30, 2010

A Very Pink Christmas Indeed (P*S*C* #35)

As you might recall, my sister and I go all out with exchanging themed Christmas presents each year. It is always a highlight to see what she comes up with! This year she was inspired to "Think Pink" as we have a new grand-daughter who certainly brings that color to mind. What was truly a surprise is that she thought about that other Pink in my life ---that suitcase that goes all over with me as we travel near and far. Diann went to the online website of Blog2Print and had the complete Chronicles printed in book form - all 34 adventures to date.
This gift really blew me away, along with all the other pink items tucked inside the above duffle bag: the book Pinkalicious by Victoria Kann, pink fuzzy socks, a scented pink candle, pink lotions and concoctions, a pink sweater set and so on. Am I a lucky sisiter or what?
My theme for her this year was classier than most of my gifts to her - "Through the Year with Poetry" featuring gifts relevant for the months and seasons. Shown above you will see the two sisters basking in not only presents but the presence of each other. We know we have been given much simply by having each other in this life journey.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Galena Wonderland (Pink Suitcase Chronicles #35)

We are in the middle of a winter wonderland right here in our home state of Illinois! As guests of Diann and Larry, you know we are having a lovely little getaway following Christmas.
Before our arrival, a snowfall covered the trees and land with copious mounds of pure white glittering snow. The rooftops of the homes looked as though they had been covered in marizipan.
Join us now as we take our morning walk in the freshly fallen snow.
Peace to you on this cold, beautiful December day. We know we all felt this peace enfolding us as well as we tracked through the woods ourselves.

Friday, December 24, 2010

The Most Precious Gift of All

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No need to feel alone on Christmas Eve when we have our Grandkitty Oliver as our guest. We have been amused by his antics of dashing through the house (without a one-horse open sleigh, mind you), sitting on top of our various body parts while purring up a (snow)storm, and helping us with the unwrapping of the gifts we've just exchanged with each other. He's one jolly, robust fellow.

Soon we will make our way to the candlelight Christmas Eve service at church, but before we go I want to wish you all the merriest of Christmases. May you be filled with the wonder of a small Babe who was born in a manger and came to bring Light into to a world of darkness. I'd like to think that in that stable where He was born, a playful little cat much like Oliver paused his antics for a bit to look inside the cradle knowing that with His birth, the world would be forever changed.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Snowboarding Inchworms

Wheeeee! It snowed overnight! Time to get out the snowboard and hit some "bumps!"
Oh, look at that cute inchworm zipping by!
Nooooo! She wiped out and I better go help her. I hope she isn't injured.
Relief...she's okay. Should I ask her to the lodge to get a cup of hot cocoa? I hope she says yes.
And so the story begins about a certain Miss Evelyn Inchworm and Mr. Malcomb Mayworm. Perhaps it will end with Happily Ever After or a lonely walk back to the ski lodge.
Who knows?
One thing I DO know is that I have found a delightful new book about crafting 24 adorable dolls.
It's called WEE WONDERFULS and it was written by Hillary Lang. The first project, on pages 8-11 features a charming inchworm - Evelyn Inchworm - wearing a calico bandana. I stitched her just as the directions required. But, something just didn't feel right for her until I decided she was telling me to put her in a ski hat, and make a matching male worm as her skiing buddy. And, overnight it snowed! Meaning those two could go snowboarding this very day. (On my back deck with moguls formed on the tarp cover over the table.)
Here's the Inchworm as shown in the book. She's awfully cute, isn't she?
Happy Snow Day to one and all! Do you think it is going to work out between Evelyn and Malcomb? Will they snowbard their way into the mountain of meaningful relationships?

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Moving In

Oh my! Oh my! Oh my! There is one excited person sitting at the keyboard typing this little blog. It won't be long now until my workplace is ready to be opened to the public once more after nearly 18 months of extensive remodeling. During this time most of our collection has been stored in a warehouse, with the public using a storefront mini library (in a former Tuesday Morning retail store) as the place to check out materials and browse through a reduced selection of books, CD's and DVD's.
And now our books are awaiting unwrapping from their sealed moving carts...it feels like a Christmas of sorts!
All around the library are wonderful light fixtures. Different areas feature different, creative designs.
What do I find particularly exciting in the Children's area? Kid-sized pieces of furniture with a touch of whimsy like this winding caterpillar table. Picture Ellie standing up here and her Gramma nearby waiting to read her a story on a comfy couch in a cozy nook space perfect for cuddling up to share a story or two.
I think our patrons are really going to love our new library --- I certainly do!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

The Pick, Prowl, Purchase Plan

Christmas came early this year for our family of seven. And what a fun time we had with baby Ellie in the mix. We tried a new way of gift-giving this year and it was a success! It was requested that I explain our plan on this blog, so here goes. Right now.
1. Pick. Each of the 6 of us (Ellie was exempt) had our name written on a slip of paper. Anne came up with a surefire way NOT to pick ourselves or our spouses (ask her) and we were requested to make a list of suggested gift ideas. She put all our wish lists in an email. The limit was $50.00.
2. Prowl. The rest of the family would get gifts, too. BUT, there were two rules for this: you could prowl through your own home, and "regift" items or spend no more than $1.00 on a gift.
3. Purchase. Using the email list as a guide, we bought one big ticket item or several smaller items on the wish list for the recipient. Wrapped, tagged and d-o-n-e done.
We all got items we wished for and less money was spent in the process. The "prowl" items were the cause of much laughter as well. For example, John handed out a couple of $1.00 lottery tickets and someone made some money on their ticket. Wes handed out 4 oil paintings he had painted long before the kids were born and they all were quite surprised to hear of his days as a painter. (They only thought of his past as a ski bum!)
Kari found elf and Santa hats for the guys, and they looked quite festive (as shown below) wearing their jolly hats. At $1.00 per hat at the Dollar Tree, she followed the rules as set in the plan. Other "prowl" gifts included a bud in a container to force into blooming - I loved it! Dish towels (regifted and just the right color for our City Nest), a sweatshirt that couldn't be returned, a calendar with Ellie pictures for her Mama were a few of the other prowl gifts.
We'll certainly be using this plan again next year! It was a great way to go greener and save the "green" at the same time. With a lot a warm feelings along the way, by the way. Gotta say I love the times spent with our family. Which is the best GIFT of all.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

A Christmas Meme

What is a meme? It rhymes with dream and it is a list of questions you answer, then another person reads your answers and goes on to answer the questions from their viewpoint. And so on. It sounds rather festive, doesn't it? I have seen a recent list in the blogworld, but want to alter it a bit...will you play along with me? Here goes: 1. Salmon or Swedish meatballs? 2. White or colored lights? 3. Presents opened Christmas Eve or Christmas morning? 4. Favorite Christmas song or carol? 5. Favorite Christmas cookie? 6. Best present received as a kid? 7. Favorite children's Christmas book? 8. Ice skating or skiing? 9. Theme trees or memory trees? 10. Favorite place to celebrate Christmas? My answers: 1. Swedish meatballs 2. White lights in town, colored at the City Nest 3. Christmas Eve 4. "Angels We Have Heard on High" 5. Cut out sugar cookies with icing and sprinkles 6. A three foot doll with curly reddish hair and a blue dress 7. THE LEGEND OF HOLLY CLAUS by Brittney Ryan 8. Ice skating --- on TV 9. Theme trees 10. Any where my family is!

Friday, December 03, 2010

House Walk 2010 Hot Trends

Reporting in from the recent parish-sponsored 2010 Housewalk held this past week in my hometown. Yes, houses here (at least 5 of them) are beautifully decorated. It's such a treat to be able to legally enter homes of complete strangers - and the price of admission is a fund raiser for a worthy cause!
Last year the decorating trend seemed to be spelled out words like J-O-Y and P-E-A-C-E on
swags, on mantels and shelves. None were spotted this
year.
This year was all about the glitter. On pinecones, on trees
and on swags.
Candles were another hot trend. Tapers and votives. Candelabras. They were found burning in just about every room of the house.
White feathers were spotted in at least two of the homes -
on small trees in bedrooms and even on the top band of Christmas stockings.
(However, the cone-shaped trees that were so hot last year were not to be seen this year.)
One constant decorating theme prevails: snowman collections. We saw them in the lower levels (certainly can't call them basements), on the main floor and even in a master bathroom. It was interesting to see this as I actually pulled out my own collection last week to display in 2010 after many seasons of remaining boxed in storage.
This marks my fifth year of attending the Housewalk. Marti and I wouldn't miss this holiday kick-off tradition for anything.
Happy Decorating to you --- will white feathers, glitter and pinecones and candles be used in your home this year? If so, you'll be smokin' hot!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Accordion to Myron (P*S*C* #34)

Growing up in my household meant Lawrence Welk on TV on Saturday nights featuring Bobby Burgess and Cissy King, Joe Feeny, Jo Ann Castle, Norma Zimmer, The Lennon Sisters and accordion player Myron Floren. (Oh, Myron, I loved you with your curly hair and cheerful persona.) Here on the show, there was dancing and champagne bubbles. In our somewhat conservative Christian home this seemed so...well...borderline sinful!

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So imagine the delight when we had an accordion player come right up to us playing and singing while we had a festive German dinner at the Gasthaus Restaurant near Stillwater, Minnesota! She tuned (get it?) right in on Ellie, and Ellie was very serious about her first accordion "concert."

Ellie observed the instrument, the keyboard fingering and watched as the instrument was pumped back and forth. She clapped throughout the performance. Maybe we have a budding little Myron Floren in our family! Anyone know where we could get a miniature accordion? Christmas is coming and this Gramma is ready to indulge! Ha!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Thankful in MN (Pink Suitcase Chronicles #34)

Just a couple of days after returning from DC, Pink was loaded up once again and sent packing to Minnesota for a family Thanksgiving with our children and Wes's parents. Talk about fun! Ellie visited our hotel room in the morning while still in her cuddly pj's and we played together before the activities of the day.
Thanks to Byerly's grocery store, we had a home-cooked Thanksgiving feast right in Elder and Muriel's apartment. We just had to heat it up. Talk about simple!
Before we ate, we once again shared our "Kernels of Thankfulness" tradition with citing three reasons for gratitude when gathered around the table. It came as no surprise that Ellie was a common theme with her parents, grandparents, great grandparents and aunt and uncle.
(Father and daughter doing kitchen duty.)
We are truly blessed. I hope that you and yours had a special Thanksgiving as well!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Coming ThisClose to Michelle O. (P*S*C* #33)

Seeing as we weren't invited to any of the festivities at and around the White House at the time of the Inauguration, we thought we would at least get close to the place on our recent visit to Washington DC.
And seeing as I am a big fan of Michelle's fashion sense, I knew where to get thisclose to the gown she wore to the Inaugural Balls that cold January evening not so long ago...the National Museum of American History is "home" to the dress in the FIRST LADIES exhibit hall.
Jason Wu designed this beautiful dress and it is stunning to view in person. Each of the little dots is hand-frayed with a crystal in the center of the dot. The fabric is intricately tucked and pleated in the bodice.
Check out the Jimmy Choo shoes as well as the 10 carat diamond ring, diamond earrings and bangle bracelets that were the accessories for the dress.
When the dress was donated to the Smithsonian, Michelle was there as well to talk about how she felt wearing the dress. This video is presented as a part of the exhibit. I was very impressed with her comments about all the "fuss" being made over her dress --- her words were chosen carefully as she tried to fathom all the interest one dress could generate. Simply stated, though, she felt like the dress was magic once on her frame.
I wondered what was going on in the minds of other First Ladies as they wore their gowns to the Balls: Did Jackie know her fashions would be copied around the world? Did Betty Ford think that zipper down the front of her dress was thoroughly modern? Did Nancy like her chignon? Did Barbara like the assymetrical look of her gown? Did Hillary have to diet to squeeze into that small-waisted dress? Did Laura know that she looked stunning in red?
Thank you, ladies, for sharing your special outfits with the rest of us who live in a world so unlike yours. You are to be remembered for years long after your reign as First Lady is over.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Pink Suitcase Chronicles #33 - DC and J.C.

See Pink? If you looked past her out into the view outside the hotel room, you would see the colorful fall trees and the spike of the Washington Monument. That's right, this time our travels brought us out to Washington DC! While the husband is in attendance at a conference, I am able to explore this amazing place. It takes bravery on my part as I am not a map conqueror and to put it mildly, directionally challenged is an understatement. Balance that with steely determination, though, and the Smithsonian museums are my goal to conquer --- as many as possible, please. (Did you know that there are actually 19 Smithsonian museums on the "mall" expanse?) The highlight for me was seeing the kitchen of Julia Child at the National Museum of American History. (Remember that year long Julie & Julia project?) Think about Paul and Julia sitting at this table eating anything-but-ordinary meals. Julia was "live" in an continuous looping interview.
These were but a few of her cooking gadgets on display.
Here's a peek at her patch.
A whole wall was devoted to a timeline of Julia's life, along with photographs and published books and such.
What a delicious time was had by this one Julia fan. It was worth every bit of map anxiety!
Coming: Meeting Michelle...or at least her dress.