Monday, December 22, 2008

Sniffles, Tissues & Lots of Sprinkles ...

Sounds yummy, eh? Who wants some of my Christmas treats!! :)
I've been baking like a fool and got this crummy little ol' cold - but rest assure to any of you who may receive some of my goodies - I have been thoroughly scrubbing my hands, which are now chapped and red, and wearing a mask!! Kidding about the mask, but not about my poor dried out hands - Thank Heaven for Gold Bond!!
My sniffles and tiredness is really beginning to put a damper on my holiday cheer ... I haven't even wrapped a thing!! Someone please remind me not to be such a procrastinator! Next year - I'm buying one or two gifts a month, wrapping in October and baking in November!! I've just had it with dragging myself through December so that by the time Christmas Eve rolls around, I can barely hold my head up from total exhaustion!! I know that I'm surely not alone in this ...
I am currently working on my Sugar Cookie Snowflakes - (see, not a tissue in sight! I told you that I am using extreme-germ-discretion!!)
I've had this copper cookie cutter for years ... and never used it! Crazy, I know! :) I usually do all the variations of Christmas cutters - reindeer, wreath, tree, etc. Since sugar cookies are only on my list of must-have-cookies for the holiday, I decided not to make myself crazy and inundated with dough and sprinkles .... So, my big snowflakes are taking care of my craving for tradition and yumminess to dunk in my coffee ... :)

I received some great, little baking supplies from my Gram that came in handy during my Days of Baking .... my favorite is this fabulous Martha Stewart silicone baking mat (above) - just LOVE it! The cookies turn out super with even baking and color - WooHOO! I'm ignoring the fact that this little gem is rubber/silicone/whatever ... and let's face it - that's not natural material, but the FDA says that it's okay. You know, that in so many years, they will be linking cancer to these things!! Well, I'm figuring that my consumption of cookies once a year should not do too much harm ... right???? Okay ... happy thoughts! happy thoughts!
So, what else might have this sniffling elf been baking??? Well, let's see ....

Kiss Cookies - you know, mistletoe and all? :)

Peppermint Candy Cane Sticks

Snowballs - my hubby's favorite!

Buckeyes - it's just not Christmas without these babies!

A new addition this year - Festive Holiday Bark

(Semi-sweet Chocolate swirled with while chocolate intertwined with toasted cashews and sweetened cranberries ... in other words ... YUM!)

Oh, I do have one little disappointment to share ... my Christmas postcards were unable to be produced by my printer. Apparently, the paper that I provided had a coating on it that changed the color of the illustration when printing ... Thus, no holiday cards from us this year. Bummed is a complete understatement - especially, when receiving such beautiful Christmas cards in the mail. Had my printer notified me a tad bit earlier, I would have created an alternative greeting. (sigh ...) I may still try something if time allows ...

Well - I must get back to the snowflakes .... I'm almost done!! And, if I do not write before the 25th ....

Merry Christmas!
May you have the gift of faith,
the blessing of hope and
the peace of His love at Christmas and always...

Monday, December 15, 2008

A Little Bit of Sugar Anyone?

Saturday was our Annual Gingerbread House Party at a dear friend of our family's home. God Bless Melanie - by the end of the evening, her entire kitchen is covered in every kind of colorful candy mortared to the surface with icing! Whew! I think that I would be a bit batty hosting this type of par-tay, as it is mostly the kiddos as the architects and designers, ranging in ages from 3 to 15! Can I just say that I love the fact that my teenage cousin and her boyfriend continue to join us and look forward to this event?! Very cool kids! And, that goes for all of 'em!!

Thanks, Mel, for bringing such holiday cheer into our lives each year!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

A Peaceful Morning ...

I found myself this morning in an empty and quiet home ... this never happens! My in-laws earned sainthood in keeping my son all day yesterday to allow my hubby and I to Christmas shop - THEN, (as if that wasn't enough!) offered a sleepover to my son and his cousin (my daughter was having one of her own) ... like I said, "sainthood" ... or just a glutton for punishment! LOL! Either way - we were blessed!!

So, after my daughter and her friend left for a Christmas party, I poured a cup of creamy peppermint coffee and thought that I would stitch up some ornaments to give to friend as a hostess gift. I pondered on a design and decided to do something along a penny rug design ... I do so love that blanket stitch! I say this now, but had you asked me, say, back in October, my answer would have probably contained a cuss word! Those were the days of the dreaded ... Girl Scout Banner ... UGH! :) Kidding aside, I am glad that I took that challenge on and completed it on time - Thank the Dear Lord!!

So - the ornaments ... I picked a Red, an Army-kind-of-Green, and Cream felt...

One down, two more to go ...

After a few hours ... Voila!

Three handmade, penny-rug-style ornaments gifts - and I didn't even have to leave my home!!

Also, just a note of excitement from our home ... My husband harvested the largest buck in all of his hunting experiences (which dates back to boyhood!). He is beyond thrilled - actually more out-of-his-skin jubilant - and I am just tickled for him! The rack is a hearty nine point and the deer is a mature beauty. Kudos, Honey!

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Friday, December 12, 2008

A Night in December ...

"Oh, snowy night"

"Craftin' around the Christmas Tree"

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Heartwarming ...

During a recent birthday celebration with my mom and gram, I received what I call, "My Most Favorite Gift of the Year!" (although, Christmas is coming so this may be a bit hasty of a declaration to make - *smile*) ...

"Baby Hoot"

Is he not just the most adorable little-bitty thing that you've laid eyes on?? Actually, my mom had given me a preview of this gift - she says that she didn't think I would like it (What??) - but I truly think that it is because she likes to torture me! So, that preview just left me with a month of anticipation of getting my hands on this sweetly, lil'-feathered treasure! He has tiny, wispy feathers here and there .... love him!

While on the subject of "heartwarming" things, I thought that I would share with you my three most treasured ornaments adorning our tree (these, of course, with the exception of my children's ornaments - those are a given!) ...

Firstly, if I have not mentioned this before, I am a huge fan of Mary Engelbriet - in fact, she is by far the #1 reason that I began to draw and paint again after my daughter was born. I had done mostly portrait and wildlife renderings (click to view samples) with all the detail placed upon the subject - not so much of the surroundings. When I came upon her work, I was completely stunned, smitten, inspired ... and well, simply, in love! Not only is her work magical, but her main character of illustrations, Ann Estelle, is an adorable little girl with glasses.

I guess my affection for her dates back to my own childhood when I was wearing my thick, brown plastic glasses. However, note that I was certainly not cute enough to be made into an ornament! No. If you read my past post, you know what I'm talking about. (No. 6, if you're interested.)

Finally, the next two ornaments are the most prized of my collection, for they are a tangible remembrance of my pap-pap, who will be missed for an astounding 5 years this December 26th....

My pap had many facets to him ...

  • He was warm-hearted; he like to share stories of his youth during walks to Kings Castle (a tall evergreen that was a fort for he and his friends), skimming stones along the shore or just rocking on the porch swing.
  • He was fun-loving; we played card games of PIG and Spoons, or dominoes.
  • He was part American Indian (not sure of which tribe or how much), which lead to his fascination of the history of local tribes; one memory that I cherish is our walks through the cemetery to scout out the grave of Massey Harbison - they kept moving it!! Creepy if you ask me... Where exactly is she laid to rest? Beneath the haunted Jr. High??
  • He was our Chief; one of the traditions at any, and mostly all, family gathering was for Pap to give a speech in "Indian." His version anyway *smile*... Thankfully, I did get this ritual on tape! We would be in tears of laughter with his rendition of the numerous "chiefs" that visited our table.
  • He was a songbird, you know the one that loves to sing, but shouldn't? LOL! My gram used to just shake her head when he would go into his version of, "I Love You Truly ..." Now, I sing it for my son ... Pap-style! :)
  • He was a Christian and Traditionalist; He may not have known this, but he instilled in me my values of family, home, faith and community.
  • He was an amateur bird watcher; Though he enjoyed all types of birds, I know that he had a special affection for cardinals.
  • He was our family Chef; Serving in the Coast Guard as a cook, Pap enjoyed working in the kitchen and was best known for his homemade mashed potatoes - which he had the uncanny way of testing a dollop on the back of his hand before he would serve. The reasoning? I am not sure ... just another quirk that made up my beloved Pap.
  • He was our family's historian; Reminiscing and telling stories of growing up and working on his family's dairy farm was a favorite past-time of Pap's. It was a well-loved farm, in its time, as families would drive for miles to enjoy the homemade ice cream and other dairy treats. He could sit for hours if you'd let him, with photo after photo, and story after story ... he loved that farm.
Which, believe it or not ... leads me to my ornaments. Gosh, I get long-winded! (I've been working on this post for over 3 hours ... Gracious!!)

My beloved milk bottles

Our dairy cow ...

These ornaments were handed down to me and are what I cherish most about our tree.

What treasures do you cherish this Christmas season?

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Got Elves?

We do!
Our yearly, little Christmas visitors have arrived! It is never known when they will appear ... they're quiet as a mouse! I happened to see one tiptoe across the windowsill and try to hide behind the evergreen. I just gave him a wink and a smile, and he scurried to the top of my curtains ...

Then, I realized that he had a friend along with him ...
This little one used the baby pine cone to hoist him up over the large teacup!
As I walked through our home, goosebumps tickled my spine when I saw that many tiny friends came for a spell ...
Little "red" closed his eyes and held his breathe hoping that the pine hid him from my sight ...
This itty-bitty elf fancied herself atop my sparkling star ... or was it a sparkling star before?
Christmas magic in the making -

If this little guy had not had an itchy nose and sneezed, "Achoo!", I may not have seen him!
Can you?
There he is!
How I adore these little elves that have visited me since childhood ...

Sunday, December 7, 2008

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas ...

... Everywhere we went!

*Making Snowman Soup & Reindeer Food*Enjoying Breakfast with Santa*Watching the Christmas Parade*Marveling at the Holiday Train Displays*

And, to set our festive hearts aflutter, snowflakes danced from the sky and twirled upon our lashes ...

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Goodness Gracious ...

What a whirlwind it has been!

From the completion of our Creative Expressions Program (Awards Night, that is ... our committee is still chugging along ... *smile*) - which by the way, my sister performed her original tribute to CE ...
...I had tears in my eyes ... AND - my daughter placed FIRST in Sculpture ...
...again, I had tears in my eyes.

to - celebrating Thanksgiving (Happy Belated Turkey Day to all ... let us count our blessings daily)
- turning thirtysomething (UGH!)
- packing away all the fall decor (DOUBLE UGH!)
- trimming our home in Christmas glow ... just how many twinkle lights can one room hold? well, let's see ...
Our beloved Winter Village that took on a new location this year - much to my daughter's chagrin *smile*.My lovely bird - my husband gave this bird to me for Mother's Day ... I absolutely cherish it and insist that he stay perched at my kitchen window for all seasons. Love him ... well - both, my hubby and the bird! LOL!
A nod to my grandma - she loves handmade stained glass and always hung her favorite pieces in her kitchen window. She handed this beauty down to me - lucky girl, am I ...

And, finally Doot-Doot-Do-DO! Our tree ...
Once the popcorn was popped, the cocoa was stirred and Charlie Brown's Christmas was placed in the VCR, we trimmed our tree. A tradition that we seem to incorporate every year. How I love the mixture of white and colored lights on a tree ...

(okay - back to the list)

- designing Christmas cards for St. Vincent College (plus hand-painting sparkle glitter on all 200. Call me crazy, but it is just the touch they needed!)
Then, redesigning the blog. If you had not noticed or something seemed a little different - my artwork is now displayed on an all-in-one, easy-access inventory via a new blog titled "My Gallery" If you have a second, please check this out. Note that an Index of Art is located on the side bar - just click on the category that you wish to view. Tell me what you think. Do you like the new layout? Any suggestions for changes or additions? When you click to go to "My Gallery", you will find a link to return to "All Roads ..." I am hoping that this new setup will provide a more organized view of my work. Again, let me know your thoughts.
Well, it's a brand new day already ... Happy Thursday to all!