Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Autumn asks: Are you making any New Year's Resolutions?

I don't usually make New Year's resolutions.

Whenever I've tried they really didn't stick. Seemed self defeating after a while.

This year I decided to make ONE. Yep, just one. And after thinking on it, I finally came up with something that sounds just right.

So, my New Year's resolution for this year is:


Love myself more....which covers weight, fitness, dress, language

Love my husband more...

Love my children more...cover's patience, understanding

Love my extended family more....boy does that cover alot of ground!!!!

Love my nieghbors more....which covers calling the cops less (kidding....well, maybe not)

Love strangers more...

Covers a lot of ground doesn't it?

And its the oldest of Jesus said LOVE....

But I have to admit. Then I thought of one more.

I really do need to cultivate a mentor on web design so my blog can look cooler.

And I started with trip to Pier One in Arkansas.

And if she read this....I'll be hearing from my mentor soon.

Love you friend!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Military Honors

If you manage to hold it together all the way through....the military honors will get you in the end.

My father passed away on the 18th. My sister and I both made it to Arkansas and were there at the time. We pulled it together and took care of the arrangements, did a gathering Sunday and on Monday, the 22nd, we had the funeral at the Arkansas State Veterans Cemetery. It was a balmy 18 degrees outside.

We were surprised at the amount of family and friends that managed to make it. Being the time of year that it is, we really didn't expect it. It was so great to see them all.

For Christmas we are regrouping and spending the holiday in Texas. Mom came home with us. We will return to Arkansas after the holidays to finish up business.

A big thank you for all the prayers of my friends. I felt their coverage throughout the whole week.
I hope everyone has a very Merry Christmas tomorrow, surrounded by their loved ones. Hold them tight!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Leaving Town

Well, the dreaded call has arrived. In the morning I am off to Arkansas and leaving the family behind. All the details are handled. Boy am I REALLY glad I had all the gifts and the cards done and taken care of.

Christmas is all up in the air. I will probably be calling my husband and children to join me and attend the funeral before Christmas...but its all a guess as this point. No telling where I will celebrate and with who.

So I'll be dropping out of site for awhile. I have never lost anyone really close before so I don't have any clue for how long.

Merry Christmas to all my blog friends. I hope for you a wonderful, laughter filled holiday with lots of family and friends. I'm sure I will be keeping up with my blog reading as it is my favorite quiet way to start the day. Post pictures for me! Ones with messy kids and lots of family!
God Bless!

Monday, December 15, 2008

A Christmas to remember?

Today was just not good.

Of course its the 15th - which means bill day. Have I ever mentioned just how much I HATE paying the bills? I mean REALLY, REALLY, REALLY. I sat down first thing to get it over with. I had an hour before I needed to get ready for our little play date with the Midnight Mama's (as we have been dubbed by my husband). Two HOURS after I should have been there, I finally arrive. I could not get everything to balance!!!!! I know that math isn't one of my strong points, but it was making me nuts. And in the end it turned out to be a glitch in my accounting program - NOT my math. How in the world did that happen?????

Mighty Mouse and I did make it. And I wasn't even the only one to arrive so late. So I was able to sit and enjoy the comfortable presence of my wonderful friends. We used the gym and the kids had their balls and bikes or riding toys. I completely enjoyed an hour of watching "that's mine" fights, struggles over brooms (that became a coveted toy very quickly), belly laughs from the most adorable toddler you can imagine, spirited little girls that I love to watch while they whip their environment into something reasonable to them...and the sweetest little guy who can say my name and actually greets me. And then there was Mighty Mouse, glued to my side and creating an amazing static electricity field around us with her crazy electric winter hair. New meeting place equals super glue kid.

So after we all parted ways, I received the call that my father is now in the hospital. Even when you know that is the next step, it still knocks the wind out of you. But good.

Also, everything on my errand list took longer than it took. It was supposed to be a day of meeting DH at the library after work with a picnic dinner. It was going to be awful close. That's when the call comes from Songbird that there is something she wants to stay after school for. Well, that's one of the reasons I stay home. So she can be involved. So permission was granted and DH was called.


It's Christmas. Christ's birthday. What could be better than that? And he is alive and active in our world. All the time that things were trying to go wrong, God was at work.

I was not wrong on our money. It was an actual program glitch. I did not mess up our finances.

Although I was two hours late, others were late also and the ones that were early stuck around and still visited with us. No questions. Just welcoming cheers and smiles when we arrived. And if I'm going to have bad news, it seems God sets me right down in the middle of these ladies - ladies searching after God's heart - right before or right after. It is such a stabilizing and comforting part of my life.

Being behind on the errands allowed DH to find me still in town when he called for some emergency first aid supplies for me to pick up so he wouldn't have to.

I was able to bless the family that took care of Songbird while we were out of town by giving their daughter a ride home after staying after school also. As they live a ways out and drive a huge SUV, it is a help.

Even though we didn't meet as planned as a family after DH work, it was for the best as he had a toenail removed today and by the time he got home it was beginning to bother him.

God watches over our family. I can see it in a million different little bitty ways. He cushions the blows. He sets me in a circle of the most faith filled people that I have ever known. A group like no other. One you have to be a part of to believe it even exists. Me. The person who you never saw in a group of over 3 people in all my life.

One way or another, this is going to be a Christmas to remember. Maybe for some very sad reasons. But I'm praying also for some very good reasons. And maybe the saddest Christmas of all can become the most joyous also. After all, God is in the business of saving souls...all the way up to the last breath.

God, BE BIG!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Autumn Asks: Are you ready for a funny?

Last month I was reading a post at Something This Foggy Day and got the biggest laugh. She has been talking about the whole "Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus" thing. A professor sent her an email with an assignment story from his class. He assigned the male's and female's to write a story together. It was a tandem story, where one of the partners started the story by writing the first paragraph. That person then emailed the paragraph to their partner and the teacher.

The partner then adds to the story with another paragraph and sends it back and to the teacher. They were not allowed to talk about the story outside of the emails - anything that needed to be said had to be in the email. The story ends when both partners agree that it is finished.

Here is what the professor sent....(Follow the link to read the entire article at Something This Foggy Day if you are interested.)


(first paragraph by Rebecca)
At first, Laurie couldn't decide which kind of tea she wanted. The chamomile, which used to be her favorite for lazy evenings at home, now reminded her too much of Carl, who once said, in happier times, that he liked chamomile. But she felt she must now, at all costs, keep her mind off Carl. His possessiveness was suffocating, and if she thought about him too much her asthma started acting up again. So chamomile was out of the question.

(second paragraph by Gary)
Meanwhile, Advance Sergeant Carl Harris, leader of the attack squadron now in orbit over Skylon 4, had more important things to think about than the neuroses of an air-headed asthmatic bimbo named Laurie with whom he had spent one sweaty night over a year ago. "A.S. Harris to Geostation 17," he said into his transgalactic communicator. "Polar orbit established. No sign or resistance so far ..." But before he could sign off a bluish particle BEAM FLASHED out of nowhere and blasted a hole through his ship's cargo bay. The jolt from the direct hit sent him flying out of his seat and across the cockpit.

He bumped his head and died almost immediately, but not before he felt one last pang of regret for physically brutalizing the one woman who had ever had feelings for him. Soon afterwards, Earth stopped its pointless hostilities towards the peaceful farmers of Skylon 4. "Congress Passes Law Permanently Abolishing War and Space Travel," Laurie read in her newspaper one morning. The news simultaneously excited and bored her. She stared out the window, dreaming of her youth, when the days had passed, unhurriedly and carefree, with no newspaper to read, no television to distract her from her sense of innocent wonder at all the beautiful things around her. "Why must one lose one's innocence to become a woman?" she wondered wistfully.

Little did she know, but she had less than 10 seconds to live. Thousands of miles above the city, the Anudrian mothership launched the first of its lithium fusion missiles. The dim-witted wimpy peaceniks who pushed the Unilateral Aerospace disarmament Treaty through congress had left Earth a defenseless target for the hostile alien empires who were determined to destroy the human race. Within two hours after the passage of the treaty the Anudrian ships were on course for Earth, carrying enough firepower to pulverize the entire planet. With no one to stop them, they swiftly initiated their diabolical plan. The lithium fusion missile entered the atmosphere unimpeded. The President, in his top-secret mobile submarine headquarters on the ocean floor off the coast of Guam, felt the inconceivably massive explosion, which vaporized poor, stupid Laurie.

This is absurd. I refuse to continue this mockery of literature. My writing partner is a violent, chauvinistic semi-literate adolescent.

Yeah? Well, my writing partner is a self-centered tedious neurotic! whose attempts at writing are the literary equivalent of Valium. "Oh, shall I have a chamomile tea? Or shall I have some other sort of *)@#$ tea???! Oh no, WHAT AM I to do? ...

(And they continue to hurl abuse.)

I think I just peed myself!!!!

Friday, December 12, 2008

List Love

This post is just for my friend Heather at Wanting What You Have. She informed her web readers that she has a thing for lists. Not only lists she makes for herself...but reading OTHER peoples list. And if you go read her post, you will see that she googled lists and found a place where people even upload their lists to share. Some of it is very funny.

At the end of Heathers post she asks us to post one of our lists for her to read. I decided I did not want to share and moved on. But I kept thinking about it. What's the big deal? Why does it make me feel naked to share last weeks list? And couldn't it be helpful? After all, I was just talking to another great friend on Monday and she was getting ready to go shopping...with a list...which she normally didn't do. This was helping her get her dinners planned and make life a little easier.

I think the problem is that I still don't like to admit I'm a conformed NON-list maker. When I got married I NEVER made a list for anything. And it never occurred to me that I should. DH was a HUGE list maker. He had little scraps of paper falling out of every pocket imaginable and so forth. He LIVED by his lists. He would run around frantically looking for lost lists. I thought he was brain damaged.

My husband tried to convert me into a list maker. I resisted. And I used to get so mad at him when the weekend would roll around and I'd say lets go do xyz. He would then tell me no, because he had too much on his list.

I HATED THAT LIST. It spoiled all my fun. And yet, I was totally thrilled with the fact that I was married to a guy that got so much done! I just never connected the dots.

The big change came the day I was once again told we couldn't do something because his list was so long (and our son had come along at that point and it was a family thing I wanted to do).

I asked to see his list.

He fished it out of his pocket and handed it over.

And I proceeded to rip it in half and hand him back the smaller portion.

I then informed him that he didn't have half as many things to do as he thought he did.

While I stood there glaring at him, waiting for the roar that could be heard on the other side of the world followed by his head popping off, he blinked. Yep, I said blinked. Like something clicked...but not in a postal kind of way. And he said okay, and off we went on our little family outing. (Of course I kept one eye on him all day wondering if I was in for a sneak attack.)

That was the day my husband rearranged priorities. His list was no longer his god. It was still very important...but not the end all be all it had been.

This is also when I decided that maybe a list was not the devil. And slowly I began to make small lists. Yes, I took all kinds of heckling for it from DH, but it was in good fun. And sometimes I revert to not using lists....but now that we live out of town and it costs $4 in gas to drive in - well, I pretty much make lists all the time. I need to get everything I can done in one trip or I end up driving in every day -- which I don't like to do.

So Heather, here is my contribution to List Love. My Shopping/Menu list is a two sided form I made up(after reading all about your Home Management Notebook I might add) . It hangs up on the fridge with the current weeks menu showing. Another hangs below it with the shopping list side up for people to write in things they find we need for my next shopping trip.

The shopping side is in landscape form as I carry a little clipboard in my purse that this goes on (with my other lists and coupons) so I can write. I currently do not have a calculator so I have to add everything up by hand as we operate on a cash basis for groceries and I only carry a specific amount and must stay within it. I hate math so I hate doing this part but have been unable to part with the money to buy a small calculator with all the bills we have been paying off.

My current hanging menu list is not complete. With DH gone most of the week I know I'm not going to stick to it well and we have plenty of things in the house that I can make for the kids and I as we determine what we feel like that day (and eating out is cash basis also and empty so its not like we will just go out). We normally eat at the church on Wednesdays because its $9 ($3 each) for DH, Songbird and I (they put out free peanut butter sandwiches which Mighty Mouse eats). We feel like we've been "out to eat" and it makes a crazy day easier. Songbird has to be at the church by 5:30 for Motion/Vocal practice and then youth is 6:30. Mighty Mouse has AWANA at 6:30 and DH and I have small group at 6:45. We just meet DH in the parking lot at 5:00 and eat right there. It rocks.

This week it read:
Chiquita Bites? ( I had a coupon for a free bag)
2 tomatoes
ginger root
green onions
4 baking potatoes
blue syrup (flavor not important but it MUST be blue per MM)
Franks Hot Sauce
1 cup pecan halves (or other nut? almonds? cashews?) (determine by price)
vienna sausages (one of the only meats MM will eat -- how gross is that?)
2 large cans tomatoes
8oz pineapple chunks
pretzel sticks
square cheese crackers
corn chex
bugles -- my turn to bring a treat to MOPS - making snack mix
1/2 cup chopped peanuts
hot dogs
both eggs (I have to have natural due to wheat problems but DH doesn't)

So there it is. Not very exciting, but sure does work.

And I have to ask...SO WHAT if you have name brands on your list????? Don't we all have certain things we really love? Being frugal doesn't mean you have to eat crap tasting stuff!!!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Autumn Asks: Have you heard of the Library Elf?

Our family uses the library on a regular basis. In our town it does not cost to have a library card...but in some places we have lived it did. If they did charge here we would pay it...after grumbling about what are our tax dollars doing anyways???

DH uses the library mostly for school at the moment. It's not unusual for the girls and I to meet him at one of the branches after he gets off work. I pack a dinner and we make a picnic of it at a park or somewhere. Cheap family fun for us. Songbird reads alot and loves to go regularly. Mighty Mouse really loves to get DVD's and play with the puzzles they have.

If you are like me, you have a hard time keeping up with everyone's due dates. The library can become a money eater instead of a money saver when you are trying to keep up with 4-5 different card holders. And as the mom, we are automatically the Library Book Manager of the home. It's don't even get a choice.

This year I heard about the Library Elf. You go to the site and put in your zip to find out if your library is listed with them. If it is, you sign up for free. When you get about 3-4 days from a book being due, you will get daily emails until you have turned that book in. (And if your youngest likes to check out DVD's that are due in days instead of weeks and have huge daily fines, this is so important!)
The other thing I love about Library Elf is that it will notify you when your holds are in. I use holds and intra-library loans all the time.....and the staff is not always that good about calling and letting me know if something is in. This solves the problem. As soon as my book is logged in to my library I get an email. Saves me having to actually log on to the library site and check for myself - you know how hard that can be!!

So, if you are a library user, go check it out. If you are a fine payer, this is the site for you.

You know, it had to have been a mom that thought of this!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Autumn Asks: So what is your take on gift wrap?

My mother and sister really go all out when they wrap a gift. I mean, its almost too pretty to open. I'm always very impressed.

And then, there's me. I'm a big disappointment in this arena.

Tie a bow? Are you kidding??? Curling ribbons? Why?

I don't even like to buy the cheap bows you just stick on...they just fall off or get thrown away. If you recycle you might get a couple of uses out of them...but that also means you have to store them somewhere all year. Like I don't have enough "stored" things.

So, I massively stink in the gift wrapping department. And since it's just going to get ripped off, I don't even try real hard to make it crisp. Yes, I'm a slop about it. I'll take the F for gift wrapping 101.

And don't you HATE the cost of wrapping paper?? My frugal friends will probably suggest butcher paper or white paper that you decorate yourself. So I have to ask, is that REALLY cheaper? I'm asking because I really don't know. Seems to me its an expense also. Are these papers actually cheap? Or am I buying paper that is not cheap AND having to decorate it? Please let me know if you have this answer, and how much it saves. Inquiring minds.

Gift bags rock. Well, they would rock even more if I wasn't so clueless on how to stuff that paper in there so it actually looks nice. Again, something I have no patience for. It's just more trash. Gift bags from the dollar store are great. Buy them at Target or somewhere like that and its a wallet buster. I could buy 1 or 2 rolls of paper for that price and wrap several presents. And the other drawback is the fact that if they are under the tree the kids can sneak-and-peak. And yes, I want them under the tree so I don't have to store them somewhere. My house is too small.

I've been reading about people that are making reusable fabric gift bags. This sounds like a fun idea. Of course you really only want to do it for the families presents or you just have to make more. The point is to be reusable. So, its only frugal to keep it in the family. I think I might try a few next year. After the Christmas fabric goes on sale in January I'll go grab some cheap stuff and do a little sewing.

Here is another cool thing I found today. This is so totally cool!!! And if you have a gift for a person that sews this can be a double blessing! Check out this video. Again, something I want to try next year for the sewers in my life. If it works I'd actually have nice looking gifts under the tree for once.

Furoshiki gift wrapping from RecycleNow on Vimeo.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Autumn Asks: Do You Make Any of Your Christmas Gifts?

I used to make home-made gifts each Christmas. It was fun. More importantly, it was what we could afford.

Once we could afford a little bit more than rice and beans, I started buying more of our gifts. I always felt like maybe I wasn't giving gifts that are good enough since they weren't store bought. The crazy thing about that is I prefer home-made gifts.When I made a gift, I put my heart and soul into it. I was usually not as happy as I could have been with the end results as the maker can see all flaws. But when I think back on it, almost everyone was really happy with the gifts. I know everyone loved DH's fudge...and even hinted that they sure wouldn't mind getting it again.

And this year, even though I am done shopping, and more than proud of myself for this fact (so much for being humble, right?), I am sad. Besides a few home-made goodies at some gatherings, and a couple of meals for friends, I have made NOTHING this year. I have to admit...I never expected to feel sad about it. But then, I'm a person that loves to do things with her hands.

So, I think I should start planning now for some home-made gifts next year. There is one encouraging event on the horizon that I think will make next year a home-made gift year for sure....but I can't reveal that info until after Christmas. But I will say that I am looking forward to the possibilities. Plus I would LOVE to learn how to make soaps and candles.

Over at Poppy Talk there is an article on 101 Reasons to Buy Handmade. It's a good read if you are interested. Click on over to check out the whole thing. If you aren't up to the whole are some of my favorites:

1. help contribute to establishing a new economic model - I think we all can agree that a new model is needed!!

6. support local community. thus building. -- I am becoming more and more interested in supporting your local communities. Artists/craftsmen and farmers being at the top of the list.

14. Human rights camp; ecological aspects. Buy handmade and you support a true artist. You can be sure that human rights are respected in the making of your gift. Handmade gifts are for many reasons often more ecological than mass produced: indie artists are superb recyclers (and we mustn't forget upcycling, upcycled gifts are a big hit this year!) and of course handmade in most cases outlasts mass produced.

21. Many items are much more environmentally friendly since there is no use of large manufacturing machines, chemicals, labor (some of it probably illegal) and waste. Many Annie and Olive items (for instance) are made from sustainable wool felt that has been naturally dyed, a needle, thread and my two hands.

22. It's fun to see the creativity and excellence of the very, very talented designers out there. It harkens back to the days of old when craftsmanship, creativity and quality were paramount - You are buying items not mass-produced and impersonal but are very personal not only to the buyer, but to the maker.

30. To support the idea that something made from hand from a fellow human is a little more precious than the something which is not.

53. Exclusivity: Each of the handmade things is a unique and a one of a kind. There are not two handmade items that are the same, which makes each item a special object. Crafty hands are behind each object fabrication process, from the design sketches till the wrapping and shipping.

60. Encourage traditions: how many happy hours have I spent learning how to knit with my mom and grandmom? There will never exist a knitting machine that can tell so many interesting stories!

61. You can always meet and talk directly with the designer, craftmaker or artist that made the piece you bought!...and we will be so happy to talk to someone who bought one of our handmade items!

71. Buying handmade shows our children that not everything in this world needs to be mass produced. It teaches them to love and appreciate the unique and the imperfect. And it inspires them to do their own creating as well.
79. Embraces how things are made and where they come from. This keeps everyone more grounded and appreciative of things.

85. Embraces and celebrates the diversity of regional cultures, ideas, and resources from around the world.

100. Because somewhere out there in the world, you are providing additional financial support for stay at home moms, who have chosen to stay home to take care of their kids & provide personalized care & guidance for their children, who in turn will (hopefully) grow up to be better people who will have wonderful memories of their childhood with a parent.

102. ..because handmade is priceless.

I think those last two pretty much say it all!!!

How about you? Do you like to buy (or produce) home-made????

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Autumn asks: Are You Done Yet?

My Christmas shopping is DONE! I love being able to say that!!! I hate shopping during December when everyone gets 10 times more rude. But today, I picked up the last thing on our list.

Now, shopping isn't too hard for me. We only buy for the children of our families. I call and ASK them what to get their kids unless I already have a clue or have already found a great bargain. And for my kids its the same thing. I have them write me out a list starting about October. I'm happy to say this works well for us as my children are not over-the-top with their requests. I was listening to another kids list and just laughed and laughed. And the mom said he fully expects that these were reasonable requests. NOT!!!!! God, thank you for my realistic children!!

Also, I completed my Christmas Newsletter today. Normally I would have had that done no later than Thanksgiving weekend...but this year has not been typical. It is done now though, so I'm in the middle of printing them out and then need to start on the actual cards. Need to get this stuff in the mail!!

I hope all my wonderful friends are done with their shopping or almost done. Sure makes enjoying the rest of the month so much easier.

And will you hate me if I tell you all but one thing is wrapped already? Cause it is!

Friday, December 5, 2008

The 8 Favorites Tag

Did you know you can gain 2 pounds by drinking 2 glasses of eggnog??? Okay, so they weren't 8 oz. glasses. But still!!! Oh well. At least I kept it even. That's one pound per cheek, right? I mean, I wouldn't want it to be 1 pound on one cheek and 2 pounds on the other.

My friend Amy at Having It All tagged me this week. This one will be a little tough for me but here goes.

8 TV shows I love to watch:
Uuummm....I might just have to take the "F" on this one. Will you still be my friend if you know I don't have a single show I watch?? It's more like this...

1. Netflix
2. SciFi Channel cheesy movies.
3. Netflix
4. USA movies
5. Netflix
6. Flix movies
7. Netflix
8. Any other channel with a good movie.

8 favorite restaurants:
1. Any authentic Chinese place. Back to Guangzhou was my favorite in Omaha - haven't found one here.
2. Vietnamese food places...the Clay Pot here is pretty good. Mighty Mouse loves the soup
3. Thai food places like Bangkok Royal here (Jitt's in Omaha)
4. Smitty's Barbeque - Panama City FL
5. Whataburger - which they have not had most places we've live....gasp!!
6. Spaghetti Warehouse
7. Small Mexican food dives in New Mexico and Arizona -- green chili to die for! The best was an actual tortilla factory with a little kitchen that sold green chili burrito's in their fresh tortilla's in Las Cruses NM.
8. The once or twice travel places.... an Indian place in the town outside Mildenhall AFB England; a coffee shop in Keflavik Iceland that made the best soup in bread bowls; a coffee shop in Guangzhou China where we ate most of our meals for 2 weeks

8 things that happened today:
1. Mighty Mouse had speech. She's doing so well that we are skipping a week again.
2. I had lunch with my sister-in-law that came into town to finish up some shopping and see her older boys.
3. I bought Mighty Mouse a new coat. Her's was looking too small and I checked the tag....size 18 months. Umm, yeah, a 4 year old in a 18m coat. I win the bad mommy award for today.
4. Dropped off two meals for friends.
5. Took a nap.
6. Watched Songbird sing at a Motion performance at church during an outreach program.
7. Took Songbird shopping for a winter coat since I was still feeling so guilty about little sis.
8. Read some of my favorite blogs.

8 things I am looking forward to:
1. Paying off debt.
2. Christmas!
3. Our next Bible study that begins in January.
4. Any and all playdates and coffee nights with my friends.
5. My oldest graduating from college.
6. Being a grandma instead of a parent (NOT in the near future please!).
7. Settling in one place and never moving again...but traveling every chance I get.
8. Heaven.

8 things on my wishlist:
1. That none of my children will make me a grandmother before they are married.
2. Having bills paid off and breathing room to live comfortably.
3. To drop 40 pounds.
4. A trip to Austrailia.
5. A homeland tour with Mighty Mouse when she is about 10.
6. To always have a church home that I enjoy and want to serve in.
7. Not driving a minivan anymore - I think a Jag will do.
8. For all my unsaved family to find Christ.

I am not going to pass this on to 8 others as it is such a busy time of year. You are tagged if you want to be...just post a comment and let me know you are doing it so I can go read yours!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Autumn Asks: Is trimming the tree a family affair at your house?

We don't have very many family traditions when it comes to Christmas. We collect ornaments for the kids each year-- one that represents something about the closing year. For instance, this year Songbird received an ornament that was a comedy and tragedy mask with the name of the play she was in and the year. Mighty Mouse gets a blown glass pumpkin because she is totally obsessed by pumpkins. She wants pumpkin everything...slippers, blanket, clothes, stuffed name it, she wants it pumpkin.

Our other tradition is to decorate the tree as a family. (Yes, I do go back and tweak it for days afterwards when no one is looking.) The kids love hanging their own ornaments and the memories it brings back.

Tonight we did the tree for the first time without Bones. We still have his ornaments since he doesn't have a tree and will probably be over here for Christmas anyways (I hope). It was sad for me as a mom...and it is exciting also. My son is now a man (or so he thinks) and is moving on. Of course he's not moving that fast seeing as we are paying half of his college. LOL!

Along with our tree trimming we also have snacks and coconock. Yes, normal people call it eggnog...but that's because they don't have a Songbird. Talk about a kid that could rearrange words!!! Anyhow, it is now known exclusively as coconock in our house.

A little bit of eggnog history from The Kitchen Project:

Many people believe that eggnog is a tradition that was brought to America from Europe. This is partially true. Eggnog is related to various milk and wine punches that had been concocted long ago in the "Old World". However, in America a new twist was put on the theme. Rum was used in the place of wine. In Colonial America, rum was commonly called "grog", so the name eggnog is likely derived from the very descriptive term for this drink, "egg-and-grog", which corrupted to egg'n'grog and soon to eggnog. At least this is one version...

Other experts would have it that the "nog" of eggnog comes from the word "noggin". A noggin was a small, wooden, carved mug. It was used to serve drinks at table in taverns (while drinks beside the fire were served in tankards). It is thought that eggnog started out as a mixture of Spanish "Sherry" and milk. The English called this concoction "Dry sack posset". It is very easy to see how an egg drink in a noggin could become eggnog.

The true story might be a mixture of the two and eggnog was originally called "egg and grog in a noggin". This was a term that required shortening if ever there was one.

With it's European roots and the availability of the ingredients, eggnog soon became a popular wintertime drink throughout Colonial America. It had much to recommend it; it was rich, spicy, and alcoholic.

In the 1820's Pierce Egan, a period author, wrote a book called "Life of London: or Days and Nights of Jerry Hawthorne and His Elegant Friend Corinthina Tom". To publicize his work Mr. Egan made up a variation of eggnog he called "Tom and Jerry". It added 1/2 oz of brandy to the basic recipe (fortifying it considerably and adding further to its popularity).

Eggnog, in the 1800s was nearly always made in large quantities and nearly always used as a social drink. It was commonly served at holiday parties and it was noted by an English visitor in 1866, "Christmas is not properly observed unless you brew egg nogg for all comers; everybody calls on everybody else; and each call is celebrated by a solemn egg-nogging...It is made cold and is drunk cold and is to be commended."

Of course, Christmas was not the only day upon which eggnog was popular. In Baltimore it was a tradition for young men to call upon all of their friends on New years day. At each of many homes the strapping fellows were offered a cup of eggnog, and so as they went they became more and more inebriated. It was quite a feat to actually finish one's rounds.

Our first President, George Washington, was quite a fan of eggnog and devised his own recipe that included rye whiskey, rum and sherry. It was reputed to be a stiff drink that only the most courageous were willing to try.

Eggnog is still a popular drink during the holidays, and its social character remains. It is hard to imagine a Christmas without a cup of the "nog" to spice up the atmosphere and lend merriment and joy to the proceedings. When you try out some of the recipes on this site, remember that, like many other of our grand traditions, there is history and life behind that little frothy brew.

And no...I really don't care about the history...I just like the pictures!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Autumn Asks: Christmas Cards, Christmas Newsletter or both?

Yep. Both.

I love cards and I love doing newsletters. So, since I no longer do the monthly newsletter for an adoption group, I get my fix at Christmas. Each kid gets their own section for news. Songbird writes her own and some day Mighty Mouse will also.

Now, on to the cards. Usually they are done Thanksgiving weekend and mailed out the first week of December. This year I haven't even started since we were out of town. I know what I'm doing tomorrow.

I have a friend that does photo cards. I will post info here and her website for you to check out. She designs great cards! Click on over to her site and take a look.

Custom Designed Christmas Cards--It's not too late!

It's not too late to order....but almost!

Creative Blank is designing custom-created Christmas cards (invitations, shower announcements,etc) for your family! It's as easy as 1-2-3.

1. Email me your family photo.
2. Receive up to four custom-designed proofs for your choosing.
3. Upload the proof to your favorite photo finishing service and voila!

What a great item to cross off of your "to do" list!
My design fee is $18 and includes any minor photo re-touching (blemish removal, color boost, black & white conversion, etc.) Attached is a more comprehensive information sheet.
Please check out my blogsite for samples of my work:
Happy Holidays!
Angela Beeler

I've seen the end product and they are nice. Too bad I already have all my stuff for this year (which is nothing more than store bought cards -- not one of the cool kids for sure!). Sure wish I had Angela's talent and could design cards like that!

How about you? Cards or letters? Are they already done and mailed? Photo cards or store bought? (I'm allergic to being on the other side of a camera lens so photo cards are probably not in my future.)

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Autumn Asks: Do you love Christmas Lights?


Really. Really. Really.

But, I only like them inside, on the tree. Don't ask. I don't get it either.
I like to look at other people's houses all decked out in lights on the outside. I just don't want the hassle of putting them up, paying the electric bill and taking them down. Yes, I'm an outdoor light scrooge.

But I make up for it on my tree.
And tonight I pulled the tree out and started putting it together. Between allergies and light abuse, a real tree just isn't an option. So we have an artificial tree, which works just fine for me. It does take me two days to put it up, make it look like a tree, and then cover every available surface with lights.
And you have to do one branch flashing, then the next branch solid. And you do that all the way around the tree and up the tree. Can NOT have a section of the tree blacked-out at any given time. That is just not right.

To do my part we did go out last year and replace our lights with the LED kind. That is my contribution to the energy abuse I contribute to this time of year. It cost a pretty penny too.

How about you? Do you love lights? Do you like clear or colored? Flashing or solid? I love to see all the different ways people do lights!
PS - I decided I needed to do a picture post every day of this month until Christs Birthday. There are so many neat pictures of Christmas scenes! All pictures are found on the net unless otherwise stated.

In other words....this is not my handiwork. I'm not that good. Yet. But I have high hopes.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Autumn Asks: Have you ever been to an Angel party?

While living in Omaha, I was invited to my first Angel Party. Each person invited buys an angel and wraps it and brings it to exchange. We then handed them over as we arrived and were given a number for exchange time.

From there we did an angel craft. One year I remember doing felt angel tree skirts. That was alot of fun. This was not a Christian crowd and the drinks were flowing freely with some, so the glue became a rather challenging item to those individuals. Yes, some people even had upside down parts. And argued that they weren't upside down with the non-leaded crowd.

Another year we did glass etching. We each got a glass to etch angels on.

I have really, really missed those angel parties. Every year when I get out my decorations and see my 3 angels from that time, it brings smiles and memories. I've tried to get others interested in trying this tradition, but had no luck...until this year.

I have had the extreme blessing of finding a group of ladies I am proud to call friends here in Texas. I'm still sort of in shock when I think of it. I'm usually pretty lucky if I make two good friends at any given new location. It's hard to invest yourself when you know you will just be saying goodbye.

But here I am, with a fantastic group of friends. And I talked them into an Angel Party! Since we got this started so late, I dropped the whole craft thing and just made it an angel exchange. We all brought snacks and stuff bags for our caroling night when we will visit a few shut-ins and others in the neighborhood around our church.

If you are looking for a fun tradition to start with your family or friends, this might be something to try. There is no end to the different types of angels that will show up...and someone is guaranteed to end up with a Willow Tree Angel.