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Showing posts from 2015

Boxing Up Christmas

I really think I put up my Christmas decorations too early this year -- as in the day after Thanksgiving. Next year I'll push myself to wait.

Advent is about waiting, and I really could have used that time before Advent to remain Christmas-free so I wasn't itching to put everything away now, when it's actually still Christmas!

The 12 days of Christmas begin on December 25, and they end on January 6 with Epiphany (or Three Kings Day). We celebrate that in our house, so it feels a little wrong to have put away all the Christmas decorations before that finale. So I wait.

But oh, the nester in me would like to get started with the boxing and the wrapping next year's Advent books. I'd like to clean and organize and start other preparations for our 2016 changes. But my waiting continues.

I'm trying to enjoy the lights and decorations a little longer. I have done a few organizational things unrelated to Christmas stuff, and I've got quite a pile of wrapping-for-n…

Fitbit Loner

I got a lot of great Christmas gifts this year, including a Fitbit Flex from my mama. It was on the top of my wish list, and she even got me one with a purple band! These things came out in 2013, but I'm not what you'd call an early adopter (big reasons why are being cheap and wanting a product with at least some of the early kinks worked out).
I'm still learning the lingo and system, but so far it's fun and a motivator to move more. I haven't reached 10K steps yet, which is the default daily goal. I knocked it down to 5K, and with a bit of effort (actually leaving the house and walking around the block) I've met that for a few days in a row. (Today we went to Walmart and I pushed the cart with one hand so my arm was swinging naturally and those steps would count -- then I paced in the house after supper until the bracelet vibrated and lit up in celebration at 5K.)
I don't have any "friends" in the Fitbit system, and I prefer it that way. As an on…

Christmas Books

I told a friend about our tradition to open a Christmas book every night of December (until Christmas) as part of our Advent celebration. She has two kids but said they don't have that many Christmas books. We have WAY more than 24 because we acquire more every year and started from more than zero since my mom had saved a LOT of books from my childhood. There may have been more too if my sister took some (first crack since her kid is 7 years older than Jane -- can you believe Owen is ELEVEN?!?!) -- or maybe I got them all. In any case, we've got a ton. I offered to make a list of some of our favorites, so I thought I'd repurpose that list as a blog post too in case you're looking for some kid Christmas books (or just have an interest in what Jane is reading in December).
Little Golden Book - Sesame Street: I Can't Wait Until Christmas
This is a vintage book (that's a nice way to say old right?) featuring Big Bird. It's long, so not a favorite for me and Sha…

A Merry Christmas Wreath from Candy Canes

Jane and I have been crafting a bit since she's been out of school for the winter break. We've mainly done Pinterest crafts that used paper plates, construction paper and pom poms. We've made a Santa face, a Rudolph and an ornament decorated with tissue paper. They've turned out really cute, and we have a couple more options to do (Christmas tree 1, tree 2 and chalk lights).

I attempted one craft myself - this Merry Christmas wreath made from candy canes. Unfortunately it's just a picture, and the comments on it are saying it doesn't work. I had to try twice -- the first time I miscounted so had two too few candy canes and some of my hot glue didn't hold. But I just finished try #2 and it seems to be holding up OK now.

I cut circles out of the candy cane box cardboard to make the center stabilizer. Also in the original picture you can see the tape used to connect the candy canes, so I did that first - taped them in sets of two/back to back. Then I used hot …

Celebration in the Oaks 2015

We normally go to Zoo Lights at the Baton Rouge Zoo to get our fill of Christmas lights, and we still will probably try to hit them up (if this rain ever stops), but this year we thought we'd try something a little crazier and drive to New Orleans City Park for Celebration in the Oaks.

It's about an hour and a half drive, and the park opens for the lights at 6. We left at 4:30 and stopped in Gonzales on the way to eat supper (Cracker Barrel 4 Life ... even when it lets us down we can't quit it!). We were at the park by 7, and because we went on a Thursday were able to find parking without too much trouble. It WAS crowded, but that was to be expected and kind of added to the festive atmosphere. The weather was cool but not cold -- probably mid-50s. So our coats and hats were welcome but we weren't frigid.

I didn't take pictures of the lights really, since I wasn't thinking blog post but was thinking "what photos will I want to see later," and those al…

Teacher Gifts: Thanks a Latte Crochet Coffee Cozies

Jane's class has two teachers, plus there's the director of the preschool who is often in the classroom with them. There were also three student teachers (aides?) this semester, but they stopped working two weeks earlier than school ended, so I didn't get my act together to make them anything. One of the student teachers stayed on so I did make her one, but in retrospect I should have come up with some other gift for the student teacher workers. Good grief.

Anyway, I made these cute coffee cozies and paired them with a Starbucks gift card ($10 each for the main teachers and director and $5 for the student worker -- still enough for one drink!). I used the 15 Minute Coffee Sleeve pattern for three of the cozies and the Crooked Coffee Cozy for the fourth. The 15 minute ones were great and sized just right, but the crooked one was a little big height-wise. I probably could have changed hook size to get it better sized.  In any case they all worked on my grande Starbucks cup …

Three Crochet Hats

A friend of a friend of my mom's is fighting her second round of cancer. She needed some warm hats, and THAT is something I can help with.

These aren't my best work, but they're not my worst, and they're all warm in their own ways.

The grey and purple stripe beanie is made with a wool blend for the grey so it's softer and warmer than my usual acrylic. It's also the most understated.

The blues is made with Caron Simply Soft, which is a very soft acrylic, and I held two strands together so it's doubly thick. The earflaps give even more warmth, and the granny square star applique adds a little fun.

I think my favorite is the breast cancer awareness beanie. I got the pattern for the ribbon on Ravelry, and I just made a single crochet cap. I should have done half-double crochets, but I mis-read the picture with the pattern when counting the rows they used. I knew it was too many rows for double crochet, but I didn't remember hdc. Single crochet makes for a …

Remembering

It's been a year since I've talked to my Gran. A year since she died.

I still think about her a lot and have many of her things around us. We use forks from her house, have a huge piece of artwork that hung in her living room, several pictures and lots of crocheted items.

The initial sting has faded, and the certainty of her being with Jesus and at peace makes it more bearable. I do believe we'll be together again, even if I don't understand how it will all work (or perhaps is working right now). I don't doubt her love for me even if that quick reassurance of "Love You Forever" is no longer a phone call (or 11-hour drive) away.

Jane has a Christmas book, The Greatest Gift: A Story of the Nativity. It's a recordable storybook that my sister worked with Gran in 2013 to create a cherished keepsake. I am planning to record it somehow digitally so when the book does finally fail I won't lose the sound of her voice. Sometime in college I did an intervi…

Sisters Frozen Hearts Hats

I finished these matching "Frozen Heart" crochet hats for my cousin's daughters as surprise Christmas gifts. Now to mail them. I am DREADING the post office run I need to do.  I finally have all three big packages ready to go, so I should get on it.

Anyway, the hats are made from a free pattern at My Hobby is Crochet, and I love the technique of front-post double crochet. It makes a ridiculously thick and warm hat plus gives a nice knit look/vertical stitching, which is fun now and then. Also much better for Oklahoma where it can get cold. We're still in the high 70s here and looking for our first freeze of the season, which can't come soon enough for me. I am a cold weather girl in the wrong kind of climate! (Although it is nice to be able to play outside with just a light jacket, I'll admit. But the mosquitoes have got to go.)

The hats are made with Caron Simply Soft that I happened to pick up on sale sometime this summer. Shawn came up with the "Froze…

Crochet: A Three Hat Order

I got another silvermari crochet hat order - three hats to give as Christmas presents. I don't know exactly how long these took me, and I am able to work while I watch TV, but doing exact measurements I often have to rip out multiple rounds. I think each hat base took at least two times to get the right size. Perhaps I should make notes on what hook size and number of increases I make to get each circumference size!

Whatever the total amount of work I'm certain I need to increase prices. The hats with faces are $15 and the non-face hats are $10. This is much lower than prices of similar style hats on Etsy. The dinosaur takes just as long to crochet and sew the spike pieces as a face would take. So maybe I should have two categories - simple and involved, or something like that?

I'm not overrun with orders right now, but it could get to the point where I really resent the amount of work for the amount of pay. So far it's OK because I have existing relationships with th…

Christmas Crochet Mini Stockings

To get myself back on a crochet page, so to speak, I thought I'd schedule a post-NaBloPoMo post about my latest FO (finished off project). I made 17 mini stockings for Jane and her classmates. I have no idea if they'll celebrate Christmas or have a holiday party or what, but I'm sure I can send them with her the last day of class even if not. 

My Gran crocheted things like these for Owen's classes when he was little (and maybe for my sister's preschool classes too?). She cranked out a TON of them that's for sure.

Those kids received real candy canes, but I went with a bookmark ruler candy cane (affiliate link). I saw them first in an Oriental Trading catalog but found them on Amazon with Prime, so you can guess what I did...

I looked up a mini stocking pattern, but it used double crochets in groups of 4. I had a stocking Gran had crocheted to look at too, and hers was so small because of her tighter tension and maybe thinner yarn so I used half-double crochets…

24-Hour Product Diary

I love the 24-Hour Product Diaries on Millihelen, an offshoot blog from Jezebel. Of course that blog is being closed so there will be no more diaries. I found some good recommendations via the blogs and it was fun to see such personal but helpful information from writers.

I wanted to write my own product diary and have had it on my "blog post idea" list, so here we go on the last day of NaBloPoMo! This is a fictional day because I don't wash my hair every day, and I wear make up even less often. I'll start my diary at night, since I shower before bed. I'm super lazy in the mornings! Sorry for no pictures -- that's how it goes with a fictional day!

10 p.m. - Wash hair with Chi Infra Shampoo and Conditioner, and while the conditioner sets wash body with Aveeno unscented body wash. When I was pregnant with Jane I was extra sensitive to scents and started using this. I've kept it up, aside from a travel size Bath & Body Works warm vanilla sugar body wash …

One Month as a Bullet Journalist

Or maybe it's bullet journaler? The official Bullet Journal website calls them journalists though, and I like that. There's a video on that site that explains the basic set up.
I first heard about bullet journaling on Miss Zoot's blog. She's a super bullet journalist and has perfected the system to work for her. A quick look on Pinterest finds tons of boards and cool ideas for layouts. It's pretty intimidating and inspiring at the same time.
The idea for a bullet journal is that you put your lists in one place. No more floating pieces of paper with notes and to do lists. It's all in one notebook and you create an index and page numbers so you can find lists later. I used to use a Franklin Covey planner (still have it and it serves as my hard copy address book despite being so ginormous), but lately I'd been without a real planning system and relied on assorted lists, calendars and my memory (never a good thing to rely on!).
The preferred notebook seems to b…

A Habit: One Daily Bible Reading

This year I've been reading through the Bible again with my One Year Bible, New Living Translation. I've used my Kindle Fire, which is nice to make highlights and look back on. I rarely write in real books, including my Bible. I've mostly shifted to reading digitally, but there's something special about a torn up, well-used Bible. I've read through my hard copy of this book at least twice in my life. It's pretty convenient to have the Kindle option for travel, not that I did much this year, but I almost always go to bed with my Kindle in my hand. (I do my reading at the end of the day. Maybe someday I'll shift to morning devotional, but I don't know.)

Anyway, I can look up the things I've marked via the Kindle browser reading app, and I thought I'd record some of them here. I'm (obviously) not finished with the year, but Dec. 31 isn't part of NaBloPoMo, and who knows if I'd remember to do it or even be up for doing it then?! This was…

Disk Digger Solution to Recover Video Files on SD Card

Even though I've officially passed off the responsibility for recording and posting the weekly sermon videos my anxiety remains elevated about the whole thing since the new guy hasn't been successful yet (all my fault)!

One of my biggest gaffes was unintentionally completely erasing a memory card. I had imported that day's video files to the computer already, but of course after the mistaken erasing (I meant to just remove some of the older videos) the files were not on the computer.

SO...

I spent all day fretting and trying different things, knowing that I had an "import complete" message before I removed the SD card from the computer. Finally I stumbled upon Disk Digger, a free piece of software that I was able to use. I think I just did it on my PC instead of the church Mac, and it really was free (unlike a lot of the other utilities that come up with you search for "restore SD card" or similar).

Between every file you had to do two clicks to continu…

Thanksgiving Cooking, Day 2 and Birthday

Nah, nah, nah, nah, nah, nah. You say it's your birthday. Nah, nah, nah, nah, nah, nah. Happy birthday to you! 
I woke up to Shawn singing "Happy Thanksgiving to you, Happy Thanksgiving to you. It's also your birthday, let's celebrate that too!" Sweet. I got to open presents on Thanksgiving, and I'll get to do it again on Christmas in less than a month (!).
Shawn preheated the oven for me, and I put the turkey in just about 7:30 a.m. (My family tradition is to eat at lunch so I keep that going. Mainly I like to get it over with AND I like having the leftovers ready for supper.) Pretty sure I made a mistake by cooking the turkey with the giblet/organ bag, but whatever I did I couldn't find it pre-roasting! The turkey was pre-brined from Trader Joe's ($25 for 12 lbs). And the turkey turned out OK even with that dumb mistake.
Last night I did make my Parker House rolls, a recipe from Bon Appetit, a copy of the magazine I got as a hand-me-down from a fri…

Thanksgiving Cooking, Day 1

More freebie spaces for NaBloPoMo -- just write what you cooked that day. OMG I worked for hours this morning, a bit more this afternoon and plan to make the Parker House rolls this evening (bake tomorrow). And I still have to make supper! (Quick turkey chili and some corn muffins.)

I multi-tasked a lot in the kitchen, but the first completed dish was the broccoli mushroom salad. It's the thing that needed dill, tarragon and basil. I never found fresh tarragon so used 1 tsp of dry instead of 1 TB of fresh. The recipe is from Real Simple, and I have the page torn from the actual issue.


Next to be complete was the cranberry Jello salad, which is an improvised version from our church cookbook using my mom's tweaks to make it sugar free. Instead of marshmallows we use lowfat cream cheese and of course swap Splenda for sugar. It fits perfectly in the crystal bowl Shawn's grandma gave us when she moved from her house to an apartment.


I deviled (or "doubled") 12 eggs, e…

A Meatloaf Recipe Tweak

Last night I made a meatloaf at my mother-in-law's request. It's a combo recipe from Saveur Magazine (number 165) and my Gran's recipe, which turns out was borrowed from another church friend.

When Gran sent me her recipe years ago she left out a crucial ingredient -- the binder, in her case oatmeal or crackers -- and I could never get it to turn out right. Finally my sister clued me in to my mistake. D'oh! Gran's recipe uses dry onion soup mix for flavoring, so I that taste is always top notch to me although maybe too processed for some. (My Grandma Jane would mix that soup mix with sour cream and serve with real Lay's potato chips for holiday appetizers and oh-em-gee that's some tasty stuff too. Ah, memories!)

The Saveur recipe is tasty and uses cornflakes for the binder, which makes a sweeter meatloaf -- never a bad thing to my taste buds but not the best for managing my health! It also uses a small yellow onion minced, but I found when I use that it…

Upgrade Her

About a month ago we finally upgraded Jane to a true big girl bed. She had been sleeping in the toddler bed version of her crib for more than a year, and after a round of visits during the summer we decided to do the big switcheroo.

At first she just used the regular twin sheet, the comforter we had on the bed before and her crocheted blankets and handmade quilts that were sized for the crib. But after a bit of searching and thinking I got her a duvet cover from Overstock and sheets from Macy's (on great sale). Wham, bam we had a fully upgraded big girl bed!

She fell out of bed once, although I didn't see her out of bed she was just crying and hysterical and said she'd fallen out by the time I got in there. It was traumatic since Shawn was gone, and I didn't know how to install the rail that was given to us by a former coworker along with the twin bed. I just put the crib mattress on the floor to catch her if she should fall again, which she didn't. Now we have the…

Disappointing People

The church website redesign is basically complete except for a few tweaks that the guy we're PAYING to work on it has to complete. It's been nearly two months since we launched, and he hasn't found the time to finish up. We already paid his invoice, including some extra time for these items (he estimated 2 hours, so seriously how could he have not found two hours to finish in two months?!). I finally heard from him that he's out of town/not working at all this week so...

One of the things I needed his help on was mobile-friendly email templates. We're still using Constant Contact, which is fine/everyone knows how to use, but it's an additional expense to Business Catalyst, which is supposed to be our all-in-one solution for web and email marketing needs. It would be if I were savvier and/or if this technical contact had time to complete the work.

Every time I try to modify the mobile-friendly templates that came with our website theme I manage to mess up someth…

Description of A Saturday

I am quite tired, and I'm running low on motivation and blog post topics. I thought I'd catalog my day to explain why I'm tired.

I woke up pre-7 a.m., which sucks because I could have stayed in bed for at least a little longer. On weekdays I am a total zombie and could sleep SUPER late, but I always get up for school prep. Theoretically I could go back to bed after Shawn and Jane leave, but 1) I usually have some work to do and 2) after breakfast and being awake/upright I'm not sleepy anymore.

So by about 9 a.m. today I had finished a load of laundry/started a second, eaten breakfast, gone to vote (#teamJBE despite being very opposed with some of his positions I am much more in line with him than the other choice, Darth Vitter) and a made quick trip to Trader Joe's for the Thanksgiving turkey. I also got some Harvest Blend tea that a friend recommended and some turkey gravy since the turkey I bought is brined and the drippings would be too salty for regular gravy (…

Stocking Stuffers 2015

I am starting to think about Christmas and buying things here and there, especially for Jane's stocking. I wrote about some of the things I put in her stocking last year.

I've been stocking up (get it?) on little giftie items, and I had some good finds at CVS of all places at the end of the summer. I got some bubbles and a jump rope and other summery things that are thankfully still mostly usable here in southern Louisiana during December. (And if not they're still fun to open and she can use them when spring rolls around in January - HA!) I meant to check out Halloween clearance to see if I could find any small goodies that would be appropriate for a stocking (or maybe even to stuff Easter eggs in March), but I never made it to a store in early November to check it out. D'oh!

I also have some extra Play-Doh from the "Doh Glad You're in My Class" birthday giveaway, so those will be going into her stocking and really filling it up. I have bought a few thin…