Saturday, December 30, 2006

~I'm B-aaaaack!~

Hello, everyone! I'm back to blogging! I hope everyone had a blessed Christmas!

(Warning: L-o-n-g post ahead!)

Aaaah! What a lovely vacation I have had! When I commenced my blogging vacation, I had a few days left in which to get ready for our trip. It seemed as though everything was screaming for my attention. I buckled down and got everything done that needed doing, and we had a fantastic vacation!

We winged our way over to the West coast:


We stayed with Kevin's mom and her husband, and had a great time with them.

I got to MIRL (Meet In Real Life) a dear friend of mine, Susan. We have been friends for about two years now, I believe. She and I first met on a message board, and then we started instant messaging each other. When I realized it might be possible to meet up with her this Christmas, I was so excited!

Here we are:


We got coffee at Starbucks, and talked like...old friends! We had a great time together! Susan has been an incredible blessing to me this past year, and I'm extremely grateful for her friendship!

Later on that same day, we went over to Annecourager's house for dinner. Her husband was my husband's youth pastor when he was a teenager. We had a delightful (albeit short) visit with their family. Click over to Annecourager's to see a picture of me with my eyes closed. LOL



Then we made our way from Washington on down to California to see my family.

California has something that Michigan does not:

Sadly, they have discontinued the one item I wanted to order! (Sigh)

I couldn't believe how close I got to this hummingbird:

It was twilight, and I had to use the flash...but still...I was so close to the hummingbird! I haven't seen hummingbirds since last September! I guess they all made their way to warmer weather (I can't blame them!).

Sunday morning (Christmas Eve), we received the sad news that my great-grandmother had passed away. The last time I saw her was last Christmas:


We had planned on seeing her on Tuesday, but God called her home before then. I'm happy that she was a devout Christian, believing in the Lord as her Savior, and she is with Him. I will miss my Grandma Lydia!

Christmas morning tradition: all gifts opened at my mom's parent's house. Everyone typically gets a gift for everyone, so the tree room is bulging with gifts.


These are some of the gifts that appeared under the tree:


I made a scarf for most of my sisters. Not pictured is the hat that I made for my brother. I have previously blogged about some of these scarves, but I stopped blogging about them, because I didn't want my sisters to get suspicious. =)

Tuesday Kevin and I took off for some time for the two of us. We stayed at the coast.



The last picture is one of our favorite spots to visit, near Big Sur. This waterfall is the only waterfall in North America to flow directly into the ocean. It takes a little hike, and then you're there. Just gorgeous!

We also drove to San Francisco, and I had the nerve-shattering privilege fun of driving into the city. Kevin had been extremely sleepy while driving, so I had taken the wheel for him. I got to drive down Lombard Street. That was totally cool. Otherwise, I would have been happy to let Kevin drive! =)

Home again, home again, jiggedy-jog...our vacation time is used up, and Tuesday it's life back to normal!

Since I downloaded over 300 pictures from our trip, I'm sure I'll have a few more to share! I think this is enough for the time being though (especially for those of you with dial up! Sorry!).

Thursday, December 14, 2006

~A little holiday~

I've decided to do something I've never (officially, anyhow) done: take a holiday from blogging.

I love blogging, and I love reading blogs. However, I've been unusually busy, and in order to fully enjoy the Christmas season, I have decided to take a little break. I will be back!

I wish you a Merry Christmas! See you all in the New Year!

~Bugging You~

I just wanted to bug all my blog readers today...make sure your speakers are turned up.

*Grin*

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

~Hurrah!~

We have all the trim installed in our living room and dining room!

This picture will allow you to see every type of trim that was installed:



In a nutshell, the crown molding was removed, painted, and put back on, the trim around the doors was made "groovy" (*giggles*) with bottom pieces and top pieces added (sorry, at this late hour I can't think of the terms for any of the pieces!), the plank substituting as trim work was taken off, sanded, painted, and put back on. BUT a decorative top piece and quarter round were added, making it look like real trim work!

The difference to the rooms is amazing! We praise the Lord for the help that our friend from church has given us for this huge job!

We still have some painting left, hardly anything compared to all the work that has gone into our house these past few months!

~Drip, drip, drip~

Last week we had beautiful snow, bitterly cold weather, and no precipation (after the initial snow, that is!). The cold front made way for the "warm" front, and by Sunday afternoon, I heard the continual dripping of the melting snow running off our roof. Now it is raining, and washing all our snow away. I've heard that we probably won't have a white Christmas this year.

I forgot to mention, but the white stuff under my yarn was snow. *Grin*

I also took a few more pictures.

Some icicles...don't worry, I was being careful.



The hill in our back yard.



As you can see, it was dusk when I took the pictures. We now leave for work before the sun rises, and return as it is setting. That means no good picture taking opportunities! LOL

~Lace Scarf~


With part of my birthday money, I bought this beautiful yarn to make a scarf with. It had a little bit of a rough start (two trips back to the yarn store for needles and advice!). However, all is proceeding well. It is a slower knit because of the thin yarn. I’m looking forward to the day it’s finished. The only thing is, I shudder to think of all the work I’m putting into it, and the thought of it getting snagged on something! I guess I shouldn’t borrow trouble, should I?

~Jealousy~

People who knit super fast make me jealous! =)

I guess knitting fast just takes a lot of practice! I’ve found that my knitting is getting a little faster. Just not fast enough to whip out sweaters and afghans left and right!

~Comments on 101 Things in 1001 Days~

While I was making my 101 Things list, I did a google search so I could read other people's lists to get ideas for my list. There are many, many 101 lists, and I only read a few of them. It tickled me though, how some of the things people put on their list were irrelevant to actually completing goals. For instance, a list of 30 things with "Finish making this list" at the top of a several month old list. Obviously, they hadn't yet. At the bottom of several lists: "Finish this list" and "Make another list to complete after this list". I found a high school girl's list with such high ambitions as "try some more drugs" and "do something illegal besides drugs". Interestingly enough, "finish high school" was on her list, but if she continues down the path of drugs and illegal behavior, she's going to have a hard time accomplishing that goal! Some of the 101 goals were impossible, including goals to do something once a day for the whole duration of the 1001 days.

I contemplated the fact that I had seen very few lists from Christians. I pondered about goals and making goals. I determined that as long as I had the right attitude ("Lord willing, and should the Lord tarry, these are things I want to accomplish"), it would be something very beneficial for me to endeavor. I usually write New Years resolutions, and I've heard several great sermons on making resolutions and goals. My objective is to use this list as a tool. Tools are always beneficial to the user, if used correctly, and that is what I desire of my list!

Lately, I've been able to cross off quite a few of my goals. It's exciting to cross something off that I've been needing or wanting to do! Some of the things I listed were things to purchase--big and little purchases. While purchasing something might not really be a "goal", the things I listed to purchase are things that I've been wanting to buy for quite a while. For some, I just need to save money for; others, I just need to spend the time looking for exactly what I want (and stop procrastinating!).

I'm looking forward to the New Year. I'm going to pick a few of my goals and really work hard on them. Some of them will take a while to accomplish.

This list is a great motivator to get things done!

Monday, December 11, 2006

~Indian Dinner~

When my sister Holly was visiting me, we prepared an authentic Asian Indian dinner. We had fun making it, and it was very good! Some of the dishes came out a little differently then we were expecting, but all was edible! LOL When Holly and I were teenagers, we had next door neighbors who had come from India. They would bring food over for us to sample, and once we were invited over for the teenage daughter’s birthday, and were served a complete meal.

We both cook the same: messy. So combine two messy cooks and the kitchen was a sight to behold after dinner!

I found my recipes online here. The spices were probably the most expensive part of the meal, because I had to buy almost every spice. However, I did it as inexpensively as possible, and most were right around a dollar per spice packet.

We started the meal with soup, called rasam. It calls for curry leaves, as did another of the recipes we made. If I were to make either recipe again, I would leave out the curry leaves. Not only did it necessitate a special trip to a store which sells Asian foods, I didn’t care for the flavor (especially the next day for leftovers).

The soup:


Then we had bhatura, a flat bread, and chana masala, a spicy sauce that had garbanzo beans in it. Very yummy, much like we remembered our next door neighbors making.

Chana Masala:


Then on to the main course: carrot rice and chicken do pyaza. The carrot rice was fantastic! I would make this again (leaving out the curry leaves). The chicken was good, not exactly what we were expecting, but still good.

Carrot Rice:


Chicken:


We were too full to eat dessert, rice pudding.

And we never made tea! That was the part I was looking forward to the most, but by the time we finished dinner, it was too late to start brewing black tea. This tea is just like our neighbors used to make! I made it a few weeks ago to test out the recipe. All it has in it is tea (black), sugar (the more the merrier! LOL), milk, and cardamom seeds (ground). Mmmm…mmmm!

We started cooking around 6 p.m., and didn’t serve dinner until 9:30! We laughingly said it was for sure an authentic Indian meal, because they always eat so late!

We had a great time together, and guess what? Another item off my 101 List! *Grin*

The Gifts of Madge and Guy

One of my favorite Adventures in Odyssey episodes is The Gifts of Madge and Guy. It's a twist on an old story, and fun for the whole family to listen to! A perfect Christmas story!

~Christmas~

Christmas is just around the corner! It seems like every blog I visit and every person I talk to, have set up all their Christmas decorations and their tree. This year we are right in the middle of our renovation project, so it seemed pointless to get the decorations out and then have to work around them.

But I still feel left out! I miss having the sparkling, cheery decorations out; the soft lights of the Christmas tree, and the pretty clutter around the house. Next year, no excuses, it's all going up!

Have you noticed the new trend of those nylon air-filled yard decorations? There is someone near our neighborhood who has a whole yard full of them. Now, perhaps they got them all on clearance last year, but I still think they each represent a lot of money. One or two may look cute, but a whole yard full? Their nativity scene is very dilapidated compared to the rest of their yard "art". Well, end of rant. *Giggle* I don't even have a wreath on my door, so who am I to criticize? *Smiles*

I finally bought our Christmas cards on Saturday. Now I just need to get them in the mail!

So, how are your holiday preparations going? Isn't the month of December just whizzing by?!?!

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Bbbbbbbbbbb

Blogger is being bad. Bizarre. Behaving Badly. A brat? (Bobbing head up and down! A bodacious brat aBsolutely!) The basis of this belief? I need want to blog a beautiful picture. And Blogger is not loading pictures right now.

Bouncing off to brood…

Friday, December 08, 2006

~Yarn, yarn, yarn~

Holly gave me this gorgeous, soft, absolutely fab yarn for my birthday. It’s baby alpaca. I don’t know what I’ll be making with it yet, but something special for sure! She also bought the other yarn to go with it. It’s made of rayon. I just love both of them!

And then while we were at Marr Haven, I purchased this yarn for socks. The thinner-weight yarn is normally sold on a 1-lb. cone. The owner said that if I had called ahead, she could have wound some in smaller skeins for me. Well, since I didn’t know what she sold, how could I have done that? LOL Anyhow, she went into her house to look at her stash, and came out with two partially used cones. She said that both she and her husband must have both been knitting with it, because there were two cones in their house. Well, we figured that the one that had the most on it would be the best one for socks. I didn’t want to take chances. I’m going to have to be careful with these socks, and wash them by hand, because the yarn is 100% wool. Now I just need to find a pattern! It’s a perfect yarn for making a patterned sock out of, unlike the self-striping yarns that I have used in the past.

I bought this yarn just because I liked it so much (so this is how a stash is started…). This qualifies for another 101 item! I really have no idea what I want to make with this yarn. It just told me to buy it! *Grin*

~Christmas card?~

The office where I work recieved the following card:

However you celebrate the season...
We celebrate your right to do so.
Enjoy a safe and happy holiday.


Naturally, it was from a lawyer's office. I suppose they don't want to be sued over their "holiday" cards. LOL

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

~Popular Searches~

It's fun to have a site meter that records what searches landed people on your page! Sometimes there's an odd one that makes me wonder why in the world how my blog ended up as a search result.

Here are a few popular searches that land people on my blog, time and time again (with links to the posts that have the search item in them):
flower washcloth
flower pin cushion
raw potatoes
Joe Zechertman

If you have a site meter on your blog, do you notice any searches that repeatedly bring people to your blog? The "raw potatoes" search amuses me. In each example above, it is only referenced on my blog once, at the most twice. It's not as though my blog were named, "The Life and Times of a Flower Wash Cloth". And yet, I get nearly daily hits from that one search alone!

Monday, December 04, 2006

~A peek into my sewing room~

With part of my birthday money, I bought a print of my favorite painting. Can you guess what it might be?

Oh, just look around my blog a bit...

On Saturday I got it framed at Hobby Lobby. They are quite reasonable when it comes to their labor costs. I was very pleased. They initially framed it without doing anything to the print, because they thought the print was on heavy enough paper. However, it did buckle a little in the frame. So I had them dry mount it. I'm not sure excatly what is involved with dry mounting, but it bonds the entire print to a poster board, and it won't ripple under the frame. I highly recommend it if you're getting a nice print framed!

Now hanging in my sewing room, "A Special Moment" by Emile Munier:



Now it will be the first thing I see when I go in my sewing room. This print just makes me smile. I absolutely love it! (Maybe it will make ironing go by a little faster? Maybe it will help me keep my sewing room picked up? Hmmm...)

Oh, and another exciting thing about this print? I get to cross off yet another item from my 101 List! My list says "frame prints", but with the size of this one, I've determined one is enough for such a small room.

~A box full of goodies~

Dawn over at (4:53) had a contest celebrating her one year blogging anniversary. She drew my name! I was so excited to see that I won, because I knew everything would just be so adorable!

My box came in today's mail. When we came home and checked the mail, we didn't have mail. However, our neighbor brought us over all our mail. I guess the mail lady got confused today? Hmmm.

Even the outside was adorable:


Everything all wrapped up so darling:




All my goodies:



Thank you, Dawn!!!

~Working and Meal Prep~

Awhile back, Trixie asked me for some tips on meal preparation for those who work outside the home. I don’t feel in any way qualified to answer, because a good many nights, I'm still muddling along.

However, here are some things I’ve learned over the last year that I’ve been working full time (and if I’d fully utilize them, I’d do much better at this meal prep thing!):

*Make a menu plan that has easily prepared dinners on it
*Make enough at dinner for lunch the next day
*Go shopping only once a week
*Buy healthy "easy" items: prepared vegetables (frozen or fresh, but not from the deli--too expensive!), pre-washed salad (note to self: serve the salad!), and easy to prepare veggies/fruits.
*Resist the urge to “grab” something instead of making dinner
*Utilize your crock pot
*Get the dishes done early in the evening

I try to keep my meals simple. Indeed, if I put something on my menu that takes a lot of time in the kitchen, chances are, I’ll look at the menu, look in the refrigerator and decide to make something else. After I’ve been gone all day long, I really don’t feel like being a gourmet chef!

I typically do my shopping on Saturday. I make sure to get everything I’ll need for the coming week. It really kills dinner time if I have to go out to the store first, and then make dinner!

I do not use my crock pot often enough. There are so many good crock pot meals out there! One cookbook that I highly recommend is Fix it and Forget it. It’s a wonderful cookbook full of delicious meals! One thing that I do from time to time is prepare the crock pot meal the night before. I put everything in the crock pot, and put it in the refrigerator. When I get up in the morning, all I have to do is put the pot in the heater, and make sure to turn it on. The turning on part is very important! Yes, I’ve gone to all the work of making a meal, and then walked out of the house without turning it on. Needless to say, it’s very disappointing to come home to a cold crock pot.

Another way I use my crock pot (and again, not often enough!) is to cook parts of my meal in it. If I need cooked chicken for a recipe, it is so very nice to come home and have the chicken cooked and ready to go! It's amazing how quickly you can get the meal on the table if you have even a few ingredients ready to go. I’ve baked potatoes in the crock pot too-—very handy.

And then, if the dishes don’t get done (guilty here) it takes way longer to fix dinner the next day.

Now, for something that I would love to do: freezer meals. I’ve done some freezer meals in the past, and I’m telling you, it’s so awesome to have meals in the freezer. It takes extra effort, but it’s worth it when you pull out a meal to defrost and all you have to do for dinner is heat it, make a salad/vegetable.

I think these are tips that anyone, working or not, can utilize! Happy cooking!

Friday, December 01, 2006

~Saturday's Fun~

Last Saturday, Holly and I worked outside from about 11:30 to 5 p.m. We didn't think to take a before picture, and the "during" pictures feature two hobo-looking gals. LOL We were quite a sight!

There is a hill in the back of our yard. The yard is flat up to the barrier, and then it juts up to the neighbor's back yard. Actually, our neighbor owns halfway down. Since there are no barrier lines, we did clean out a lot of their property. I'm sure they won't mind! =)

Here's the after picture:


Imagine, if you will, three whole truckfuls of leaves, branches, and vines. It was such a huge job, and I'm so thankful for my sister's help! We were planning on planting daffodils, but we ran out of steam (and daylight). So unless the weather suddenly turns spring-like again, I'll wait till next year to plant the daffs! (I haven't purchased them yet.)

There are lilacs planted along the barrier, which hide the hill from view during spring and summer.

Incidentally, this is another item I get to cross off my 101 list!

~South Haven~

On Tuesday while my sister Holly was here, I took the day off work, and we went to South Haven. It was a good bit away, but well worth the drive.

On the way there, we passed through some rain clouds and a few raindrops spluttered on the windshield. But the weather in South Haven was just gorgeous! The first thing we did upon arriving was to walk out to the lighthouse. Lighthouses always fascinate me!



Holly took this picture of us:



Since we were hungry, we then went to a cafĂ© called Captain Nemo’s and had lunch. Nothing fancy, but the food was good! We split a plate of fish and french fries. I would have preferred fish and chips, but both the fish and the fries were delicious!

Then we set out to visit the shops. Here’s a note if you’re ever inclined to visit South Haven: every day but Tuesday is a good day to go browsing through stores! A good portion of the shops were closed on Tuesdays. However, we did find plenty of shops to look through. We enjoyed our time very much.

I picked up a brochure for a B&B in South Haven. It seems like the perfect vacation spot!

After Holly and I left South Haven, we headed out to Marr Haven, a wool shop. While the South Haven web site posted it as a shop to visit, it wasn’t very near South Haven. We had a nice drive through the country though! While I was in looking at the wool, Holly was out looking at the sheep. =) Here are a few pictures she took:







I'll post pictures of the yarn I bought in a separate post.

We had a lovely day together! Perfect weather, company, and town!