Keeping up with my correspondence…

Scott and I often joke that I am a ‘woman who keeps up with her correspondence.‘ This doesn’t mean that I actually sit down each morning with a red box and open it to see what correspondence needs to be accomplished that day.

What it does mean is that I live in a very different world in my head than reality plays out. -ha!

I was proud of myself for putting together some Mother’s Day cards this year. I wanted to tell the women of my life how much I noticed them and their enormous hard work. I finished the cards early because my daughter was coming to visit from out of town and I knew I needed to get an early jump on them before cleaning bathrooms (that dang reality again) set in. The first unfortunate thing is that I didn’t get cards completed for the entire list of women I find admirable and the second unfortunate circumstance is that they remained piled in my brand new MAIL holder on my desk. I mailed them on Tuesday…after Mother’s Day. Aargh.

I clearly had no recourse but to blame my daughter for this unfortunate turn of events.

Why can’t I just be normal???

Easter Connections

Our neighbors dropped off an Easter gift this morning. While I’ve never actually associated Easter with rainbows before, I immediately loved the unexpected comparisons.

Was there ever a time in Christian history that we were more filled with hope than the discovery of an empty tomb? Was there ever a time that we needed God’s promise more than the desolate hours after the person we thought was going to magnanimously save us, lay in a tomb from a simple, uninteresting, earthly death?

Admittedly, God’s covenant with man seems weak at times in 2022, while watching the news or sitting in a doctor’s chair, getting yet another vaccine. And yet day in and day out, glimpses of His eternal mercy are doled out to us. Grand moments of unimaginable answered prayer and sometimes, a rainbow bag of Godiva chocolates and German traditions.

I hope I will remember the unanticipated connection I felt today between resurrection salvation and rainbow promises.

What was your glimpse of hope today?

HAPPY EASTER!!!

The Seductive Proximity of January 1

Our affable goldendoodle, Tilly, soon to be two years old, has become enthralled in the world of squirrels. I feel confident that she does not mean them harm. I believe her understanding is that they are merely more creatures with which to romp and play. They sit on our back fence, eating the specialty bird feed we buy at the specialty feed store and put out for the specialty fancy birds. Birds of stately yellows and regal reds. Birds that will not tolerate unhusked sunflower seeds nor rub shoulder wings with common underlinings like crows or blue jays. The squirrels, however, give not a second thought to scraping leftovers off the ground, possessing neither dignity nor self-restraint. Squirrels are not too proud to pick among the weeds and filth at the feet of God’s more majestic creatures of flight.

We have a large window in our dining room that is low enough for Tilly to sit for hours watching the squirrels in action, or (more humiliatingly), she simply stares at the spot where the squirrel disappeared over the edge of the fence. Tilly is nothing if not hopeful that the furry creatures will return at any minute, this time to ask her to play. Her innocent enthusiasm is infectious.

The week between Christmas and New Years is an odd wormhole of time where many of us are not quite sure what to do with ourselves. We carefully wrap and box away Christmas ornaments while we simultaneously pack away the previous year: our high hopes, our realized disappointments, our many questions about the virginal new year that lies ahead.

What resolutions shall I make for this next year? Are they reasonable goals? Are they reachable? Are they lofty enough to challenge me to new growth? I have plenty of anecdotal proof that resolutions are often broken. I regularly chastise myself for the perennial goals I have yet to achieve. At what point am I too old to set to paper, goals I want to achieve in the new year? At what point do I allow life to simply unfurl before me without pre-determined resolve or intentional orchestration?

Each year we are reminded that there is nothing magical about the first day of a new year. And yet the secret places in my heart believe that there, in fact, is something special about an empty tablet lain open in front of me, words yet to be written, experiences yet to be had. A renewed opportunity to change, grow, evolve. Become the kind of person I’ve always aspired to be. My better angels win out over my cynical tendencies and I tell myself, yet again, there are new vistas to climb. There are character flaws to hone. There is service to give. There are people to love.

May we always be enticed by the seductive proximity of a new year hanging over our to do lists, calendars, values, life goals. May we always resolve to resolve for a better tomorrow. A stronger self. A more binding community. An ever-expanding understanding. We are not too old. We are not too failed. We are not too ‘too’. We have survived and thrived and met the challenges of each past year. We are capable. We are over-comers.

Make the New Year’s list of resolutions. Hold them with grace and forgiveness when you fall short but also know that you were brave enough to commit them to paper and therefore, strong enough to try again.

From our home to yours, we wish you the happiest and healthiest of new days ahead. We hold a warm and tender space for you in our hearts and in our home this new year.

– g

Cookiethon 2021

Since Scott has to work on Christmas Day, I’m putting together a big cookie tray for the other AWESOME essential workers and doing goodie bags for some neighbors.

It’s been a fun cookie making week!

I hope your Christmas is a blessed and happy one.

Girl, don’t do it…

It’s not worth it.

I’m not gonna do it, I was just thinking about it. I’m not gonna do it.

I did it.

The recipe for Southern Living’s Pumpkin Spice Bundt Cake. Holy nutmeg! The perfect marriage of spice cake and pumpkin bread.

I am NOT one of those people. I don’t like rushing seasons or holidays because I inevitably get bored with them too soon. I want to put things out at an appropriate time so I can enjoy them all season long.

But the spices in this cake… pure pumpkin heaven! I had to. Just this once. I’ll now go back to summer and 100+ days and flip flops and tank tops.

But for one little Saturday in August, I simply HAD to have a little bite of Fall.

Plus!, this recipe calls for candied pecans to be sprinkled on top but I used regular pecans so basically, it’s diet food.

Don’t make this recipe too soon, (don’t do it, girl) but put it on your Fall Bucket List. It’s one of the best bundt cakes I’ve ever had (no hyperbole needed.)

Looking forward to sweaters and hot cider and football games. But not yet. There’s a little more sand-between-the-toes days to come.

enjoy!

She wore pearls and felt.

These 5” felt trees were meditative to work on. A perfect craft for a chilly winter afternoon.

Scott is becoming a master Cricut user. (It’s a new-to-us tool that I’ll talk more about in the future.) He cut out a bunch of Christmas trees for me. I love using non-traditional Christmas colors. This cool aqua seemed to create just the right cold-weather forest look I wanted. I purchased a few strands of small pearl beads in the jewelry section and was ready to go.

I randomly sewed on the pearl beads. I had to remind myself I wasn’t sewing a button on a coat for a 9-year-old boy; I didn’t need to secure them on for endurance! One good loop through the back would do.

It’s been years, actually, since I’ve used the blanket stitch. But it added just the right rustic finish to these delicate trees. (I like this quick tutorial)

I thought I had polyfill at home but realized at the last moment that I didn’t. Instead, I used some of the snow from one of my first projects and it worked great.

I’m not saying it was a mess-free endeavor, however

The stuffing should be just enough to add a little 3D effect. You can see below the difference between a stuffed one and the flat one. Just a little, you don’t want to overstuff these.

(I even got a little adventurous and added a ‘g’ to the back of one tree and the year ‘’20’ to another.)

You could string these together to make a garland or add individual strings on the top and use them as ornaments. I considered tucking them into the bottom of a grapevine wreath. Or even simply placing them in a bowl. Many options.

But the more I looked at them, (and maybe this was because it was around lunchtime), the more they looked like those icing-covered animal crackers with sprinkles on top. So I gathered them together and put them in an empty cookie jar, hanging one outside with a string, and adding a bit of faux snow to the bottom.

Magical. Meditative. Mid-century.

Knowing myself, I will forget about all these crafts and be pleasantly surprised when I find them in my Christmas boxes next year! (Which always happens when I buy after-Christmas things and they go straight to storage.) -ha!

Textured Decor

There is something cozy about a bowl of yarn. It adds warm texture to your living space.

If you’ve ever made a yarn ball you know it takes a lot of yarn (and a lot of mindless looping.) This is such a simple hack that I’ve used for many years. It’s also a great way to use up the last remaining parts of a skein.

Start with a styrofoam ball. Just to give me an extra hand, I usually hot glue a little patch to get me started.

Fill up all the blank spaces and you’re done. Again, I put a little dollop of glue at the end, place my yarn over it then cut a little tail and tuck it into one of the laps of yarn. The hot glue will keep it in place and not unravel.

Choose some complimentary colors but with varying textures. Use Christmas colors or the colors of your home. These add warmth and dimension to your room, easily and inexpensively.

Peppermint Hearts

I didn’t mean for this simple wreath to be an ode to Rudolph, but it kind of looks like it, doesn’t it??

I hot glued two candy canes together like a heart. Then glued their tips together to form a wreath. Pretty simple. I made a crude circle to use as a base to glue the candy cane tips to.

Then I hot glued all of it again to add my pom pom which also acts as a connector of all the parts.

I used some leftover stars from the pinecomb project and some leftover sequins from the sequin ornament. Added some ribbon from the Buffalo check canvas and called it done.

It adds a little holiday wonky whimsy in the kitchen. Are you a candy cane fan? I like them inside holiday candy but I don’t usually grab one just by itself. They are good for settling stomachs after that big Christmas meal, though!

A Few Christmas Glimpses

So many people struggled with the decision of whether or not to decorate for this weird 2020 holiday season. I can fully appreciate those who decided to skip it or simply go smaller than normal. For whatever reason, I felt unusually excited to decorate this year. I think I needed the safety net of memories and glittering lights to buoy me through the canceled plans and stay at home orders. It’s helped me out a lot, to plug in the tree lights and watch them do their thing.

I mention it every year but this pink ornament is from my parents’ first Christmas together in 1961. It has valiantly survived the years and it makes me smile each time I unpack it from the many layers of bubble wrap I store it in.

Just like this bowl of sugared fruit that sat in their kitchen window. Is it even Christmas if there’s no bowl of sugared fruit??

The gnomes are holding court by the front door, keeping evil out and mischief in. Their biggest job this year has been greeting the Amazon delivery guys. *wink*

Did you decide to decorate this year or to give yourself a needed break from the tinsel and glitter? We hope to go over to an area of town called the Fab 40’s this evening and drive through their neighborhood. Their lights will be fun to see. Then home for some homemade hot chocolate. It’s SO GOOD!!

Happy celebrating to you, however you’ve chosen to do that this year. Your choice was a correct one, so rest peacefully in that. 2021 Christmas will be here soon enough!

Hawt Chocolate

We made a deliciously rich and decadent hot chocolate recently that I decided must be a part of my #2020s20HolidayCrafts. I insist you make it immediately then sit back with a good book and one of those arm-knitted throw blankets and have yourself a merry MERRY weekend-before-Christmas.

This recipe is adapted from a Southern Living magazine hot chocolate recipe.

I mean… it starts with Half and Half and milk. So you know it’ll be good. It continues with a half a can of dulce de leche. Need I say more?

Shaved dark chocolate, heavy cream, girrrl. This is some extra livin’.

After pouring a mug full of heaven, add about a tablespoon of Tennessee Honey whiskey then top it off with some homemade whipped cream.

And why not add a chocolate rolled wafer cookie while you’re at it.

ENJOY some grown-up time and thank me later.

Tennessee Hot Chocolate

  • Servings: 5-6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print


4 cups half and half
1/2 canned or jarred dulce de leche
8 ounces chopped dark chocolate, extra for topping
Jack Daniels Tennessee Honey whiskey
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1C cold heavy cream
chocolate rolled wafer cookies (like Pirouette)

Whisk together 4 cups half and half and 1/2 cup dulce de leche in a medium saucepan. Simmer over medium heat, stirring constantly until heated through (about 10 minutes)

Remove from heat and whisk 8 ounces chopped dark chocolate, 2 teaspoons vanilla extract, and 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt until the mixture is smooth.

Next, beat 1 cup of cold heavy cream in a cold bowl with an electric mixer on high until stiff peaks form (about 1 minute)

Pour hot chocolate mixture into 4 serving cups. Add a tablespoon of whiskey. Top each with whipped cream, a drizzle of de leche and shaved chocolate. Serve with chocolate rolled wafer cookies.

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Craft Fail.

Doggoneit! This wreath. This huge wreath with it’s beautiful ornaments…it was going to be a good project. I saved it for the middle. 22″ x 17″ of Christmas cheer.

However…

I bought a huge tube of ornaments. Then, for good measure, I also bought a smaller tube of ornament balls. But this thing requires six MILLION ornaments! ugh.

So IF you were making this, you simply lay your wreath down and start hot gluing your ornaments on, using the table as your ‘wall back’.

Hopefully this is a popular ornament color that they’ll bring back again next year. COVID and Crafting is difficult sometimes!

I guess I will pack it all away and finish it next year?? Had I known I would be short this much (guesstimating was never my strong suit – but I SERIOUSLY had a LOT of ornaments to work with), I might have worked in other things like pinecombs or yarn balls or something.

Nothing to sweat over now though. That baby is born and I’m going to have to bow to defeat. What a typical 2020 wreath, huh??!

Instead, I’ll show you our 2020 glass ornaments we’ve collected so far. I say ‘so far‘, but I think we’re probably done for the year. It will be fun to collect more and more every year until we have a dedicated Christmas tree just for them. As I mentioned before, these are like collecting charms for a charm bracelet. Each ornament has meaning and ‘spoke’ to us.

I ordered the masked Santa online to commemorate 2020. When I opened the package his weird blue eyes freaked me out a bit. Again…how appropriate, right?

EEEEEK.

Crafts are fun and challenging and you do everything you can to overcome the obstacles along the way. But sometimes, you lay the project aside and say, ‘I’m done. For now anyway. Maybe later.’ I’ll be first in the store when the Christmas decorations start coming out in 2021. Maybe I’ll get lucky and find similar colors.

Happy crafting!! (And know when to quit.) 🙂

That Little Sequined Number

Have you ever headed into a project and quickly thought: “Excuse me, ma’am. Have we met?!” This was that project for me. My self-awareness was off kilter the day I chose this particular craft project.

WHAT possessed me to push nine gazillion sequins into a styrofoam ball with nine gazillion pins?! However…I really like it.

What’s really cute of me, is that I bought a six-pack of styrofoam balls to make SIX! *doubles over laughing* I think you can guess how many I made. If you guessed one, you’d be correct. If you guessed 1/4th of one, you probably know me best.

I was surprised to find out that they make pins specifically for sequins. They are a bit shorter than regular pins and they were hanging right next to the sequins in the sewing section of the store.

A couple of hints: separate out the sequins and the pins into bowls. They’re much easier to grab that way. You’d probably benefit from a thimble, which I didn’t want to dig up so I used the tail of my shirt. (Do whatcha gotta do.)

I started at one end and started spiraling outward. I wasn’t overly concerned with the sequins being in a continuous pattern. I don’t really think that’s necessary. Just make sure each sequin overlaps.

As I finished up, I left a small space open where I put a dollop of hot glue. I then put a pin through one sequin and pushed it into my looped, black velvet ribbon and pushed it all into the spot with the hot glue. The ribbon serves as a hanger or is just decorative.

I love the look. It’s very shiny and elegant. I imagined putting a nametag through the push pin and ribbon to set at each place setting. They can hang on a tree or a doorknob or cabinet pull or….on and on.

As I was debating with myself and encouraging myself to keep going (-ha!), I thought about how this would make a good project for a child who was diligent and dedicated. As long as they’re careful and understand overlapping each sequin to cover the white styrofoam, I think they’d feel very confident and proud of the end result. So parents – think about semi-supervising this project and letting your focused kid dig into it.

I included in this place setting a vase of white hydrangea (you know I can’t get enough hydrangea in my life.) I filled a vase with a bag of fresh cranberries then covered them with water. It’s a nice pop of color on a tablescape. They also last quite a long time if you change out the water occasionally, which will turn pinkish-red so it’ll need a refresh. When the hydrangeas are gone, I’ll drop a little votive candle into the top of the cranberries and water.

Hanging separately or with many others grouped together, when the light hits the metal and the sequins on these sequined ornaments, it’s very pretty and magical. Save a few of those sequins for sprinkling around.

I proudly present to you my ONE sequin ball. I didn’t think I’d finish it at times, but am so glad I stuck to it. When the season is over I will be locking it in our fireproof safety deposit box!

*said only partly facetiously*

What do you think? Do you have what it takes? (For the record, what it takes are calloused fingers and upper arm strength!) These would be lovely at a wedding in the chosen colors. This is where you can be a brideszilla, though, and delegate others to do the work!

Are you enjoying the holiday crafting so far?