Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Labor of Love

I've never made or had anything to do with making a gingerbread house.  It all looks a little complicated and messy for me - kind of like doing any craft with glue or fondant.  But now I have experienced that and made it through - not without a good bit of messiness but with a lot of laughter.

Elise and I went to Michael's last week when we went to Issaquah to Target.  She almost sat in the car and waited for me, but then once she was inside, I had a hard time getting her out of there.  She said this was not what she thought Michael's was, this wonderland of cute stickers and beads and Christmas stuff.  Unfortunately, it was jam-packed with people on a Friday morning on the first day of December.  You have to start early for those crafty gifts.

Among other things, I decided we would do a gingerbread house for the girls.  This is the simplest one I could find there, and believe me, there were bigger and grander ones than this "cabin."

Yesterday might not have been the ideal day to start a project like this.  Emily was so sick she could hardly stand up without getting dizzy, so she stayed home and slept most of the day.  The other 3 of us were a little better but still fighting cough sand runny nose and earaches for Kate.

Emily and I got the pieces out while Kate was napping and Graysen was playing somewhere else.  Once their busy little hands got into the icing, we knew there would be no more reading instructions.  And there were no instructions except for getting the icing into a decorating bag, so we were on our own.

Luckily, the house base comes already assembled.  I was afraid of having to make those little gingerbread pieces stand up correctly and putting on the roof straight.

Emily managed to sit on a stool and roll out the fondant and cut the doors and windows.  She and I were quickly arguing about sizes and shapes and had to remind ourselves we were going to turn this over to the children.

The door was the only thing we had much input into.  I made a circle of white on the front, and Graysen made the wreath and pretty much did all the decorating after that.  Kate was content to eat a candy cane and grab the icing bag when she could.

I'll just post a bunch of pictures I took after it was finished.  My hands were too messy to do anything while we worked.

I think she's almost ready to start making her own birthday cakes.  She did really well with the icing bag.

Graysen and I loved the holly leaf and berry sprinkles, but they were hard to hold onto, and a lot of them ended up on the floor - and in Graysen's mouth.

It looks like there was a messy snowball fight in the back yard.

It was totally worth the mess and confusion to see the pride the girls had.  They actually wanted to eat it as soon as we finished.  I guess the gingerbread part is edible.


By the time we got through, it was dark, and Kate said, "It's time for you to go home, Mimi."  I saw a look of panic in Emily's eyes, but I took the girls up and put them in the bathtub while she cleaned the kitchen.  It was a good time in spite of everyone being sick.

I'm going back to Michael's today for some things I forgot and am thinking about getting Emily and me another one to make ourselves.  Just kidding.  That will never happen.

I am going back for more of these cute holly stickers for some reindeer I'm making for Graysen's class.  They are so much fun to do - except when you forgot the put the back on, and then they're basically reindeer bookmarks.

Elise picked this bag of "jewels" out at Michael's.  I'm going to get her to cut out some green felt trees today that the girls can decorate after school - if she will part with any of them.

I tried them on a barrette cover.  Fun!

The weather is - interesting this week - cold but kind of crisp and NOT rainy.   No one is talking about snow for awhile, but it would be nice to have a white Christmas - kind of.

Monday, November 27, 2017


Not me!  At least, not in person.  I do most of my shopping on line, mainly on Amazon Prime when possible, but you can't help being inundated with ads for Black Friday and Cyber Monday "deals."  Emily sent me one link for a Christmas gift, which I followed through on, but the shipping ($12!) took away what savings it offered.  Still - it was easy.

So today I thought I would be serious and look around and see if there was anything that I was going to regret NOT buying.  For someone who doesn't need anything, I kind of knew the answer.  I will need a new computer probably this year, but that's not a quick purchase.

Another thing I need is a hair dryer.  Elise and I use the same one, and it started crackling this week, so I was resigned to getting another one.  I figured I would go to Target or the local drug store and pick up one, but I just had to see if there was an almost-free one on Cyber Monday.  I Googled "hair dryers Cyber Monday deals."  The first result was something about the 10 best hair dryers you can buy.  As I scrolled through them, I was amazed.  Who knew you could spend $700 on a hair dryer?  I was thinking $19.99 or less.  This was my favorite.  The Sedu Icon Prive hairdryer.  And it's sold out.  That's scary.

So my search continues.  I'm glad I didn't decide to go to Target today, but I will go Wednesday and also to Michaels - with my coupons in hand.  Shopping for me lately runs more to felt for reindeer candy cane holders and barettes and maybe socks.  Poor Kate was sad this morning that there was only one Santa Claus cup, so you KNOW what Mimi is going to look for this afternoon.

I made myself take the first step and get busy in the sewing room last week.  I need to take a whole week to organize - but since I won't do that - I'm sewing in the midst of clutter.

This was the first project and so much fun.  Graysen doesn't love everything you think she might where clothing is concerned.  She's very picky, but I knew candy canes have a special place in her heart.

I shouldn't have taken them over before Thanksgiving because they want to wear them 24 hours a day.

I was watching a video from last Christmas and realized Kate could say very few words - Wawa and more (mo) were 2 of them.  This year, she is speaking in complete sentences, and her grammar is near perfect.  There are a few pronunciation things we have to ask twice about, but she just know what she wants to say and says it.  Sometimes, her reasoning just cracks up us.  We were puzzled last week when she talked about her skeleton bones dress and her fork coat.  This is what she meant.  Not so sure about the skeleton bones but I do see where she sees forks in the tulips.

I did Kate's second pair last night, and it turned out sweet also.  Graysen's second pair I didn't embroider (ready made with matching doll pjs), and I'm holding these back for the last day of school when they wear Christmas pjs.  If not, they'll have them worn out by that time.

Elise and I had Thanksgiving dinner of just ham and dressing.  I think cooking a turkey would have been easier than what I went through with that already-cooked ham.  Ryan has made a ham with ginger snaps that is really good, but I was interested in this blog article I saw about cooking one in a crock pot.  No one mentioned that you had to have an industrial-sized crock pot.

The hams were $1.39 a pound one day at Safeway (as long as they last, they said), so I hurried down to get one.  The smallest took up most of the basket, but I figured I could perform a miracle and get it in my crock pot.  Not so.

I asked to borrow Emily and Ryan's.  I sent the picture, and they said theirs was bigger than that.  Once I picked it up, I realized it was the exact same size.  

So I spent way too much time sawing off portions from all sides to get the bone part to fit into one pot and then using the other one for the leftovers.  The first one was mainly just bone and a little meat, and the second one was filled with slices.  Not pretty.  But it turned out really good.  This is the recipe I used from Amy Kay's Kitchen.  She either has a huge crock pot or found a little bitty ham.

Emily and Ryan had a big dinner with their friends on Thursday, and on Friday Elise and I took our ham and dressing leftovers and had a pretty nice feast.

I see my old turkey centerpiece from the 80s and our wedding china.  So glad it's getting used.

The last packages of Alabama peas were hidden from the "company" Thursday and saved for those of us who know how valuable they are.

In the past, I've tried to give everyone an ornament on Thanksgiving Day for the Christmas tree.  This year, I found them all in one place, Pier One.  I got a little feedback from Elise and Graysen and ordered them for everyone.

Katherine is an owl girl, and I knew she would be thrilled at this owl.  It was prettier than it had looked in the picture.  And bigger!  She did love it.

Graysen had liked the squirrel, and it was also sweet. 

Elise picked out the fox in a wreath, and we thought it would be the size of an ornament.  Not quite, but it looks good hanging near the tree. 

Stella thinks it's looking at her.

For Emily and Ryan, I found this.  He looks already at home, almost as if he's nibbling the candlestick.

And another llama for the tree.  To the right is a Beatrix Potter ornament that I just discovered I had.  I bought it about 10 years ago for my grandmother drawer and forgot I had it.

We had Graysen over for another sleepover Saturday night.  She had a birthday party to go to Saturday morning and wanted to spend the afternoon here.  I'm not bad to want to watch football games, but Elise made me, and it was worth it.  We had so much fun just screaming our heads off.  I doubt that any of our neighbors have ever heard of Auburn, so they may have thought we were crazy. 

The day was nice, and Graysen spent some time blowing bubbles on the newly cleaned off balcony.  The geraniums and lavender are still blooming, but I think that's about to end soon.  I'm hearing that word "snow," so far just on Snoqualmie Pass, but I did hear mention of snow in the foothills next week.

Eating her birthday party lollipop.

And playing with oldies but goodies.  The picnic basket was a Christmas gift for Aunt Cece a bunch of years ago, and the little teaset in the background was a gift to me from Aunt Stephanie - also many years ago.

I'm gradually getting the apartment changed from fall to Christmas and bringing up just a couple of bags at a time.  That way, it's not so overwhelming.  

The tree is just the right size for the room.  It's not quite finished.  I think I'll substitute beads for that gold ribbon.

Graysen remembered the nativity set and couldn't wait to get it out.  We had read the Christmas story several times, and this year she is understanding who the characters are.  She is asking where the star is "because the angel comes OUT of the star."  This is how she left things when she went home yesterday.  A little crowded with the baby and the little angel in the loft.

I'm not sure what this gathering outside is meant to be.

It's going to be such a good holiday this year.  I just know.  We have Christmas carols on the radio on the way to school and a little snow on the mountains.  I think there will be more happiness than sadness this year.  I'm not sure why, but that makes me feel guilty and then makes me sadder.  I wonder if it will ever get easier.  

It's hard to be completely sad with children around though, so I'm counting on that.

And the fact that Miss Tricia had a huge insect (I for insect) on her head when she opened the doors this morning.  Similar to this:

stupid hats | Buzzy Fly Hat - Adult Hat

Friday, November 24, 2017

Anything is Possible

Or that's the way it seems on a fresh new day-after-Thanksgiving morning as I sit by the fire with a cup of coffee and PLANS.

I love Christmas and feel like Superwoman about this time of year, planning and making lists and looking forward to decorating and listening to Christmas music - this in spite of years and years of knowing half the stuff I plan never happens - and some of things that do happen I wish I had never thought of.  And also in spite of knowing that anything we do between October and January of every year is going to be accompanied by so many feelings of sadness and regret at Mike not being here.

Last year, we could hardly function.  But this year, I think we've done well to make some memories for the girls and ourselves.  As I type this, I had to really think hard to remember what costumes the girls wore for Halloween.  So much for MY memories - I guess this blog will have to fill in things.  They had a great time though and, through school and home, made some good memories.  Neither girl minded when the spider and spooky "man doll" and skeleton door hanging on Steller Way were replaced with turkeys and fall leaves at their house.

Many years ago when we lived in Greensboro, Elise gave me a set of oversized glittery acorns that we love.  Along with some tiny pumpkin-shaped Putka Pods that Emily found in South Dakota and a few pine cones, I do this little bowl every year in one of the bowls Mike brought home from Mexico.

Graysen has never been able to resist touching them.  Last year, I managed to keep them out of reach because of Katherine being so little, but after all this is Mimi's house of spoiling, so I let them examine them all they want to now.  I have a feeling I will find some strays in other parts of the house later on.

So November.  The rains started right after Halloween and have not stopped for long.  There have been only a couple of days of cold and rain, so it hasn't been too bad.  I know it snowed, but we kind of didn't let that bother us.  It's supposed to rain all weekend, so Emily and Ryan plan to go get their tree this afternoon.  I have an ornament for each person all wrapped, so I can't take pictures until they open them.

The girls have been drawing and coloring turkeys and pumpkins and Pilgrims for weeks and never get tired of it.  So funny.  Kate is now adjusting to being left at her school 3 days a week and is happy with "my school friends."  She is singing some songs they have learned, and I think Graysen is a little puzzled that she knows things she herself didn't teach her.  She brings home her crafts just as proudly as Graysen.

I've managed to pick up some pictures from the Rooster Valley School Facebook page.  They talked about the Little Red Hen for the letter H and acted out the play and then made bread.

She seems to have been the little red hen when Brooklyn was the dog (I think, or maybe a goat) in this picture.

Then when Brooklyn was the little red hen, Graysen was the cat.

These teachers are brave to let that many kids loose with real eggs.  

Painting goats for the letter G.

The Rooster Valley Revue was Tuesday, and we had been hearing all about it.  

Last year Graysen didn't like wearing a chicken shirt and hid it beforehand and then refused to participate in the program.  What a difference a year makes!  This year she was prancing around the stage with her friends before the program, singing all the songs and having just a great time.   Sorry about the quality of these pictures and random adult heads.  It was hard to do! 

They did a skit about the Troll under the bridge, but instead of the 3 billy goats Gruff, they had numerous farm animals.  Graysen was a cat in this skit and a rat in the Farmer in the Dell one.

Emily, Katherine, and I just had the best time watching it.  Such a good morning.

We're so thankful for these energetic teachers who add so much to their lives.  There is never a morning that Graysen is not excited about getting to school and actually talks about what she did.

She has gone from thinking boys were not worth glancing at to now greeting them along with her girlfriends and even saying she has a boyfriend and says he's "funny and pretty, and I want to invite him to my birthday party,"

I have sewed and plan to do more, but that will have to wait until another post.  My morning is half gone along with my coffee and patience with finding and posting pictures.