Monday, December 26, 2011

Reflections and Resolutions

So...2011 is nearly over. For me, the last week of the year has always been one of reflection and planning. I look back at the highlights and significant happenings of the past twelve months. How did I spend my time? What fun and exciting experiences did I have? Did I try something new? Which part was my favorite? What do I want to change for next year? What did I learn from any challenges or negative experiences? What gave me the most happiness, peace, and satisfaction?

I recently read this enlightening quote from Charles Richards.

"Don't be fooled by the calendar.
There are only as many days in the year as you make use of."

Makes you think, doesn't it? Whether or not you use each day wisely is your choice. You can mindlessly trudge through life or you can meet it head on with enthusiasm. That doesn't mean going full throttle every minute, though. Everyone needs to recharge batteries, assess where you've been and where you want to do next. The key is to think positively and actively pursue the things that make you happy.

2011 has been a good year for me. I realized some dreams, learned new skills, and met some goals in my second full year of retirement. I started this blog and have written fifty-two blog entries. Jerold and I spent over sixty relaxing days in our vacation home on wheels; a retirement goal for both of us. I enjoyed time with my mama and gave her the peace and quiet of our home while we were on the road. I designed and created forty-five items: quilts, crafts, home d├ęcor items and clothes. I loved staying home, planting flowers and walking in the woods with Rowdy dog.

I hope 2012 will be as satisfying and fun. The resolutions I make will be guidelines to continue a happy and comfortable life, making use of every day's opportunities.

One resolution I have made, and try always to keep,
is this:  To rise above the little things.” 
~John Burroughs

Monday, December 19, 2011

Christmas Favorites

Wow, can you believe Christmas is only a few days away?  I have lots of fond memories of exciting, crazy, and peaceful holidays. Besides the twinkling lights, fragrant candles, cheerful decorations, and mouth-watering smells coming from the kitchen, here are a few of my Christmas favorites.

Traditions:  Since I was a kid, I've always made (or helped make) Christmas sugar cookies and Chex mix.  

Foods: Pecan pie, my grandmother's white candy - made with Eagle Brand milk & walnuts, Archway Nutty Nougat cookies, homemade hot cocoa

Gifts:  I love presents!  Nothing beats the delight of giving or receiving a special little surprise.
Songs: White Christmas, I'll Be Home For Christmas, I Believe in Santa Claus (Kenny & Dolly), Nuttin' for Christmas (Sugarland) 

Movies/TV: Christmas Vacation, Polar Express, A Charlie Brown Christmas

Snow: It's wonderful when we get a white Christmas, but it doesn't happen often. I love snow anytime, so I'd settle for flurries. 

Santa:  I believe!  Whether I've been naughty or nice, he always manages to leave me a little something.


Monday, December 12, 2011

Handmade Holidays: A Little Something Extra

I believe that Christmas is a time of doing special things for others, especially the ones you love. On Saturday I baked old fashioned sugar cookies and made a floury mess in the kitchen. It was great fun, the cookies were tasty, and Jerold loved them. 

I have been playing with quilt designs to use up my huge stash of fabric.  I came up with a pretty one in yellow and pink for a little girl. I don't have kids or grandkids, but I really wanted to sew this child-size quilt. It's reversible with one large log cabin block on the back.  A family member has a three-year old grandchild, so I'm making this for her as a don't tell!  It will be wonderful to see her face when she opens it, since she won't expect a present from me.

I nearly always handcraft a gift for someone during the holidays, usually the women or children. I'm glad we have a small family! I remember macrame Christmas tree wall hangings, quilted place mats, monogrammed napkins, embroidered pillowcases, crocheted scarves, lots of clothes, journal covers, and house shoes. 

Useful Notion:  Experience the joy of Christmas this year by sharing yourself with others in whatever way you can.  It will surely make you smile. 

Christmas is doing a little something extra for someone. -- Charles Schulz 

Monday, December 5, 2011

Simple Christmas Decorations

I love Christmas but I've never been one to use elaborate decorations in my house. I don't completely redecorate, have a lavish theme, or drape every square foot of surface with tinsel and lights. Our life is simple and casual; our home is a comfortable ranch style, so I use items that blend into my decor. 

This year I sewed something new for my ceramic Santa Bear and Missus to stand on. Using scraps from my earlier Christmas stocking project and some narrow black cotton strips, I pieced a kind of stained glass effect. They now happily reside on the sofa table in our living room. Aren't they precious? 

I like to add something special to every room, just a bit here and there to make the season beautiful. To keep things from becoming cluttered, I put away some regular items to have room for holiday pieces.  I bring out old favorite decorations and supplement them with fresh flowers, along with pine cut from our trees.

A small metal tree with sleigh bells and rustic ornaments sits on our kitchen counter bar. This year Jerold added lights to it and I love the look. We're eating our meals by Christmas lights!  Who knows, I may keep it out for a while.  I could decorate it for Valentine's Day, St. Patrick's, Easter...

Useful Notion: Here are a few ideas to add quick and simple Christmasy touches to your home.

  • Switch out sofa pillows and throws for ones with Christmas themes.
  • Add spicy cinnamon, evergreen, or peppermint candles to set a sensory holiday mood.
  • Put a pretty bow on a mirror, lamp, or candelabra.
  • Hang a Santa hat on a coat rack.
  • Sew or buy holiday aprons, dish towels and potholders.
  • Pine cones in a basket make a simple table centerpiece.
  • Drape twinkle lights on top of a china cabinet or bookcase.
  • Tuck little Santas, wrapped gifts, or stuffed animals on benches, chairs or tabletops.
  • Fresh greenery, candles or snow globes work well on bathroom counters.
  • Substitute framed holiday photos for your regular family ones.

"Christmas waves a magic wand over this world, and behold, everything is softer and more beautiful." -- Norman Vincent Peale 


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