Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Hey Everyone, It is Present Time!!

Christmas is near! I have no interest in the season as a religious holiday, but I love to celebrate our family's traditions and show how much I love them. Some would argue that gifts are not the way to do that. I think it can be. My children don't get a lot of things throughout the year. New clothes at the start of school. Little things here and there, but we aren't rich. Sometimes it makes me sad when I tell them they will have to wait until Friday for something that really shouldn't have to wait. So at Christmas I do my best to make it nice for them.

When they were little it was great to see their excitement build and read their letters to Santa. I have always tried to shift the focus from one of greed to one of thoughtfulness. When they became too old for "Santa", we began the tradition of them choosing the items for each other's stockings. Even as little ones, their gifts for each other was always a book they chose for each other. That night at the book store spent making a selection for someone else was one of our favorite nights. It was also one of the few times they ever received a new book.

Christmas hats 2010
Last year we started a new tradition of making one gift for everyone in the house as well. I made hats for everyone, Lou designed scratch boards for us, C made keepsake boxes for the kids and a frame for me, Sonny decorated pillowcases with iron-ons. It was really nice. I hope that is something we continue. I know I already have plans for this year and am all set to begin the making this week. 
As with so many things, our holiday traditions will be going through a transition as the kids grow up. One of the pins I saw today on pinterest gave me an idea that might fit the new situation. It advised 4 gifts. One thing you need, one thing you want, one thing to wear, and one thing to read. That would be lovely at any age. And no matter how grown up they will be, they are always going to be my kids.

The start of a gift
I also plan to make gifts for some of my daughter's friends, my nieces, and my nephew. I don't know what else will make its way to my needles, but one thing is sure, every stitch makes my heart happy. I don't want the things I make to be just an obligatory gift, but something that warms someone's soul.

My Mom probably instilled my love of Christmas and Santa. She was an amazing Santa and would go to incredible lengths to get everything just right. I know the efforts we put in for my kids when they were little. I can only imagine how she was able to get us the exact Cabbage Patch Kids we wanted in 1983. Our stockings were always overflowing and the house looked marvelous when we woke up full of wonder. 

It wasn't until I had kids that I realized the antics that went on in those overnight hours. It was the only day of the year that my mom would drink. Vodka, cranberry juice, and Squirt. There is photographic evidence of her peeing her pants when my sister fell on wrapping paper after setting the camera timer to take a picture of them in front of the finished tree. It still brings tears to my eyes to think of it. She had so much fun providing that Christmas morning for us. She would go on day-long shopping trips with her oldest friends every year. It was often the only time they saw each other; she worked 60 hours a week. We would have to go hide when she got home so they could carry in all of the packages. Sometimes my out-of-town sisters had to be called on to hunt down a hard-to-get present. 

One year, we could not find a Little Big Ears doll for my niece. Goodness knows why she wanted one. We could not pull it off. But Santa can do anything. A week after Christmas we had the doll, wrapped it, and threw it out the upstairs window on top of the bay windows. We hollered for my niece and I crawled out on the icy slope to get the present that had fallen out of Santa's sleigh. She was a believer. 

I am proud to say my children believed in Santa for a very long time. (My idea of how long may vary from what they would say, but they were smart enough not to let me know.) I would not trade those years in for anything and I hope when they have little ones they will let me play Santa with them. Sometimes I miss being able to say, "Santa is watching you," and have that make everyone behave.

I believe that one day of gift giving, and getting, will not instill greed in a child. If you live your life 364 days of the year on the right path, one day will not undo everything. Taking away an "American" institution could be more hurtful to a child than a few toys wrapped in paper. Life is not made up of holidays, if you don't show you care about someone everyday, no amount of presents can buy that.  

Tuesday, November 29, 2011


Thanksgiving is over, but I am still reflecting on the feeling of gratitude. 
We always say what we are thankful for before we eat our dinner. Usually as we are filling our plates with stuffing and cranberries. I will never forget the year my young niece said she was thankful for pickles. Dinner was running late and pickles were the only thing my Mom would let her have before the feast.
This year, like many others, I said I was thankful for my health and my family. I also mentioned I was thankful for my new table and that you can cook a turkey in a crock pot. 
But, those are fairly generic things to be grateful for. It is like saying your New Year's resolution is to go on a diet. Not that they are bad things to be grateful for, but, with more time and consideration, I realize there are many other things I would add to the list. 
I am thankful for my family. To be able to join together for a meal that we all helped prepare and share laughter is the best thing ever. Only briefly did I worry that next year Lou might not be home for the holiday. We can always Skype. I am lucky to have a clan that calls each other Greg.
I am also thankful for my health. I really don't have any issues and that is a great feeling. I never get sick (knock on wood) and my aches and pains really are minimal, even if I do a ton of whining.
I am thankful for my relationship. I am always striving to be a better person and the partner my darling C deserves. She is my future.
I am thankful for my job. Wow, I never thought I would say that. But I really don't mind it. I am still not a big fan of having to be somewhere at a certain time for someone else's profit, but it could be worse. It was worse for about 4 years. At least now I don't feel my soul being sucked from my body as I cross the parking lot.
I am thankful for all of the little things that bring me pleasure throughout the day and remind me of how rich my life is. Coffee in the morning, a wonderful bowl of oatmeal, the warm feeling of cat snuggles against my legs when I wake up, and greetings from the pups when I come home. Money can't buy those things and I am thankful that I am able to appreciate what they add to my life. 
I am thankful for the time I am able to spend knitting and reading. It feeds my soul. I have been able to make some wonderful gifts of love this year. The novels I have read helped shaped who I am today, the words soaking in and molding my view of the world. It has been time well-spent.
I am thankful for my dog. Maybe she should go in the family section? I think she is in a category of her own. She makes me smile everyday. I have more pictures of her on my Facebook than the kids... I think that might be because she is more tolerant of my photography, though. She is the bestest. 
I am thankful for the wonderful furniture that has come into my life this year. I have coveted the Brasilia line from Broyhill for ages. Never did I imagine that my home would one day be full of it. Living room, dining room, and bedroom are adorned with pieces that make my eyes happy. I feel so lucky that we were able to work things out to have such treasures. I am excited to create the memories that this furniture will witness. 
I am thankful for the recipes that I have found and prepared for my family. I love to try new things and see my skills grow. I appreciate the new pans I got for my birthday and use them with respect for the cook they previously belonged to. It is exciting to taste new flavors and grow our own food. I look forward to doing more of that with C in the Spring.
I am thankful for having the time to live my life. I am thankful for every day and try to make each one count. I am thankful for the laughter that has been the music of my days. 
There are a million other things I could list, but right now I want to be thankful for my bed and the rest I get there.     

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Dragging My Feet.

I do not know why these socks are taking me so long to finish. I love the yarn, the pattern makes me happy, and they are my birthday present to myself. I had one done by my birthday. My most recent deadline was last Friday and they are still not ready for toes. 
What is my malfunction?
I love making socks. They make me feel smart. Dreams of the next pattern have already been percolating in my brain. Something with some tricky cables in a solid color. I am looking at either teal or bright red yarn from The Fiber Universe.
I also have some more Madelinetosh yarn from Philly to make a hat for C. It should go quickly, although I have never made an  ear-flap hat before. Maybe that will be the perfect break before I begin panicking about Christmas knitting. 
Last year we started a tradition of giving a hand-made gift to each other. I made us all hats, with mine being a combination of all of them. I loved it. Shorty gave us all personalized pillowcases, C created memento keepers, and Lou made us each scratch board illustrations. I am planning on felted slippers for all of us this year. I know which yarn and pattern I will use for the girl version, but not sure for Sonny's yet. 
Maybe the problem is that I am knitting these socks for myself. It seems that I am usually more motivated when I am knitting for someone else. I didn't have much of a delay in finishing my sister's birthday shawl, even though it was completed at the exact last possible mailing moment. Same with my great-niece's wedding sweater.
It is possible, with the knitting time I get today, that they will be ready for toes. And if there is any time for knitting in Milwaukee, I may be able to finish them up. However, I am determined not to look up yarn stores in Milwaukee. If we happen to encounter one, I will go in though. I shouldn't buy anything, unless it is the most perfectest sock yarn ever....but I could still visit.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

{Oh, What a Find!} - Brasilia Edition/Addition

Halloween night was wonderful. We were finished trick-or-treating fairly early, but the kids had full pumpkins and a lot of fun. We even stopped at a house that had decorated their whole yard and they got glowing bracelets. It was fun to see them running from house to house as fast as they could and taking turns ringing doorbells. This is what childhood should be like.

I had told Julianna that we were going to stay out until we had some Peanut M&M's, because those are my favorite, but she got some at her grandmother's house for me.

The rest of our Halloween evening was spent with a living room full of teenagers. I love it when they come over to hang out. They watched the Blair Witch Project and ate.

At the end of the night it was time for our Halloween tradition called Pumpkin Smash. We always smash our own pumpkins in the street. It was hilarious this year. When Jenny heaved her pumpkin over her head, the lid came off and hit her skull. I giggled at that, but was waiting for the grand finale. We had Trevor (whom I had not previously met) light a random firework I had found and put it inside Charity's pumpkin. It was fairly anti-climactic, mostly just a fizzle and some smoke. Since it didn't explode, he retrieved it from the road and went to smash it to smithereens. It was still smoking from the firework and when he went to throw it, he released too early and it went zinging towards Emily's head. She had to duck really fast and then it almost hit the window. It was the best ever!! I laughed all night thinking about the smoking gourd's flight and the lid plopping onto Jenny's head.

The other Halloween night excitement was finding a craigslist posting for dining room furniture. I had been looking for a new table for years, since my wild birthday party where we broke the table and fixed it up with some 2x4's. There were times when I felt like just settling for anything else, but I knew exactly which set I dreamt of. I never in my wildest dreams thought I would own it. And there it was. The Brasilia hutch, table, six chairs, and three leaves. $500. In Tremont.

I could not believe it. I interrupted the kids' movie to announce the posting. I started compiling a list of things to sell to get money. I tossed and turned all night. I couldn't wait to call about it, but I was also sick to my stomach about calling.
Finally at 10:30 a.m., I felt like I could manage to call and not sound insane. Voicemail. By my lunch break though, I had a return voicemail. I called back and we set up an appointment for Thursday night to see the furniture.

I went on a craigslist posting frenzy. At my knitting group, I sold YARN! I considered selling plasma.

On Thursday night, we drove to their house. I saw it, bargained, begged C, and set a date for delivery. The next Friday, this past Friday, my furniture came home for $400. They even delivered for us.

The furniture had belonged to an Aunt that had passed away. She lived in a big house that sat on ten acres of land in the middle of Grand Rapids, MI. They believe she got it soon after her wedding. She was well-off and gathered the family for Thanksgiving dinners at this table. They had some of her other furniture available too. All of it was of a vintage, ornate style. She had a grand staircase in this house.
I feel my four walls are not worthy of this set, but I know the next place I live will probably be chosen based on how the Brasilia will look in it.
I was so anxious the whole time it was in transport. Not because my oldest child was riding home with craigslist strangers, but what if something happened to the furniture on the road? (I knew E could handle herself) Emily and I moved in the heavy pieces, we let Matthew handle the chairs. I polished the rest of the night.

The table top will rarely see the light of day. I have the table pad on it, with tablecloths. I figure for fancy dinners we will take the tablecloth off and use runners and placemats. The Canonsburg Temporama set looks amazing in the open portion. I had to rearrange it aobut 6 times to get it exactly how I wanted it.

I am in love. It makes my soul happy to see the straight edges, rich wood, and curved details. Even my Loverface had to admit she was happy the next morning to see it in the rising sun. I am a lucky, lucky girl.

Thursday, October 27, 2011


I love that you can see the tomatoes ripening
I finally found the fabric for my new kitchen curtains. A square of vintage cotton from a yard sale is now hemmed up and hanging from my windows. I will add the pom-pom ball trim to the bottom as soon as I get the go-ahead from C. I am happy to have a new update and soon there will be shelves and new prints on the walls too. All in honor of my new pans.
It was tricky figuring out the new sewing machine, luckily my friend was very patient in answering my questions and sent me photo tutorials. And C politely ignored my cussing. Add to that the frustration of using a pattern that was the wrong size, there were a few times I wanted to chuck the whole thing out the window. But we were able to get everything worked out and the kids seemed happy with their outfits. I can't wait until Monday to take them trick-or-treating. I have my fingers crossed for good weather. 

Friday, October 21, 2011


I read through some of the directions to import Sarity from it's Typepad home. It does not look like an easy thing to do. Right now I am just thinking of changing Typepad to a micro account and allowing the content to stay there.
What will you need to go there to find?
  • My super secret Chocolate Crumble Bars recipe
  • My previous Oh What a Find! Treasures
  • Pictures form 2010-2011
  • Hilarious stories and life updates
I now have most of one costume done (just need a tiara) and am ready to sew a skirt with some imporvisations and modify a t-shirt to become a cheerleader costume. I thought I was going to get off easy and be able to let Julianna wear a traditional Herron girl costume, the gypsy skirt. No deal. She is too big. And it is so sad because it is such a beautiful costume. Back in the cedar chest for it an hopefully I can remember it next year for Annabelly.

I like to take my nieces and nephews trick-or-treating and sew their costumes. I didn't the last 2 years, but I did take them to Wildlife Scary Park. They had a good time. This year, I am off work early so we can hit the streets and get our loot. I am so excited. A cheerleader, a ballerina, and Wolverine will be out haunting the neighborhood and fighting over who gets to ring the doorbell. I hope it is warm out. Or at the least, not damp feeling....
And I hope my sewing machine will work....without cuss words.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Moving In

I have decided to move my blog over to Blogger. The biggest reason being that I want to free up the money I was paying TypePad to donate to NPR. Maybe a silly reason, but I also feel Blogger is going to be easier to customize and create the online home that I truly envision. There may be some bumps along the way, but I think I will be able to import my previous posts. Hopefully without too much of a headache.
I made a few changes today. A few more will be coming soon.
The only other thing that is moving in is my sewing machine. It isn't actually MY sewing machine yet, as I have not made anything with it yet. I sold mine last summer in anticipation of moving and with the intention of buying a new one when I needed it. This summer I picked one up at a sale for $5 and we will give it a try. Coming soon (by Friday? I hope) are 2 Halloween costumes and next week I will have kitchen curtains with the possibility of some modified t-shirts inspired by Pinterest. Goodbye, dining room table.