Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow

Woke up to another 3 inches. Figured it was time to get some snow pics up.


I don’t believe too much in New Year’s resolutions, per se, because I don’t think you need to wait for a new year or even a particular day to resolve to do something. However, I certainly do believe in resolutions. Remember Project ESCR? Let’s get down to it.

Exercise. Sort. Create. Read. I am least excited about the S (Sort) part, so let’s talk about that one and get it over with.

We move a lot. And, as a result, we are almost always getting ready to move (packing) or recovering from a move (unpacking). When we get to a new place we try to unpack everything and get it into place as quickly as possible so as to enjoy a “normal” life in our current home as long as possible. Inevitably, though, we get to a point where everything we absolutely need is out of boxes and in place, yet there are still x number of boxes that remain unpacked. Motivation to continue unpacking goes right out the window. At our last home, in Germany, we had a whole storage room (the infamous Room Seven) filled with unpacked boxes. I kept meaning to unpack these boxes and sort through them, but due to our circumstances there, I never got around to it. These boxes are now compounded with additional unpacked boxes here in Kansas and a whole slew of unpacked boxes from Washington that were in storage while we lived in Germany.

It’s all here taking up valuable space. I’m talking not just about physical space in our home, but also about EMOTIONAL space. Having the boxes sitting in our storage room and garage here in Kansas makes me antsy because I don’t know exactly what’s in them. I know I don’t need everything in them, so I have to go through (i.e. SORT) them, to find the few things I would like to keep from each box. I am looking forward to getting rid of the things that I DON’T NEED. Someone else could make great use of these things, so to have them sitting around in my house, unused, is selfish and silly.

So there will be SORTING. I am committing to 4 hours a week. That is one hour a day for 4 days out of 5. The 5th day will be the processing day: Goodwill, Salvation Army, women’s shelters, here I come. Sorting, like exercise, is something that takes an enormous amount of willpower to get going, but once you’re in it, it feels great. And the cumulative effects are awesome.

I’ll begin today.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like...

...CHRISTMAS OUTFITS! Somehow we managed to take not one single picture of Madelyn in her adorable little Christmas dress, so you will have to settle for a Christmas sweater (with matching head gear).

The dogs were also quite tolerant of their Christmas head gear.

Jillson in her Christmas dress and boots. For all you other children of my era, yes, those are scrunched suede "leather" boots with bows on the side. Long live the 80s!

Jillson's dramatic debut in our church's pageant. (Sorry about the out of focus pictures.) For some reason the angels in our pageant carry "wands" i.e. twinkling stars on the end of sticks, which are just a disaster waiting to happen. One little angel kept eating her star, another kept hitting the bigger angels behind her with it, etc. My little angel decided to see if the skinny end of the stick would fit up her nostril. It did. And in the other nostril, too.

Christmas morning left Jills standing in awe in front of the filled stockings. Santa came and filled them with wondrous things like sparkly chapstick, nail polish, and sun glasses. And, of course, the ubiquitous Christmas Cheetos.

Kansas got a good dumping of snow on Christmas Eve, which meant we woke up to a truly white Christmas.

Santa left a present under the tree for each of the girls (the rest are from family and friends).

A favorite stocking stuffer...

A favorite with the one-year-old set. Dance along with Barney. This was a hand me down toy from friends of ours here in Kansas. We thought Jillson would love it (she does) but we didn't predict how much Maddie would enjoy it. She does dance along.

A third installment of photos to come later.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

And May All Your Christmases Be...

...WHITE! We are featuring perfectly seasonal snow. Let me see if I can get some Christmas highlights up here.

Here's the picture from our Christmas Card:

"Starter Snow" from early December:

Making sugar cookies from scratch. Jillson's first experience using cookie cutters on something other than play dough. Also her first time sprinkling on the colored sugar. She loved making them. She did not like eating them.

Christmas card assembly area.

Wouldn't be Christmas without a seasonal beer sampler.

Kiki brought a project for Jillson, and it went off famously. We made suet cakes out of peanut butter, crisco, birdseed, raisins, and corn meal, and hung them in suet baskets in the backyard. We've been enjoying watching purple finches, juncos, and cardinals ever since. I didn't realize we had such a great bird-watching house. Thanks, Keeks!

Last minute ornament making:

More pictures soon to come...

Friday, December 18, 2009

Snippets #2 and #3

On the way home from preschool today Jillson announced that she wants Santa to bring her a purple stethoscope. (Great. We are done with our Christmas shopping and let me just say that there is not a stethoscope of any kind, purple or otherwise, in our stash.) She then asked me if I wanted to be a doctor when I grew up, and I said that sounded like a nice idea. I asked her if she, too, would like to be a doctor, and she said, “Oh no. I want to be a sick person when I grow up.”

While watching Sesame Street
Jillson: Mommy, I think it's time to start cooking Christmas dinner.
Me: Well, it's still a bit early. Let's wait until Meme is here and it is Christmas. We can all cook together then.
J: Mooooooom. You have to say Kiki, too. You have to say "when Meme and Kiki are here." You keep saying "Meme," but Kiki is coming, too. You have to say "Meme AND Kiki."
Me: Okay. We will make Christmas dinner together when Meme and Kiki are here.
J: Right. [Pause.] But Kiki doesn't cook.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Cocktail of the Month -- Meet the Vellini

Last month I re-instated a Gutsy Family tradition, the Cocktail of the Month. This involves choosing some sort of yummy adult beverage recipe, hunting down the ingredients (preferably for under $30 per month), and enjoying a special drink now and then with dinner or just because.

It helps that I have a husband who likes chick drinks.

Last month we had caramel appletinis, thanks to a recipe my friend Holly somehow snagged from the Blue Olive in Tacoma.

This month, we are featuring vellinis. What is a vellini? It is a vanilla bellini. What is a bellini? It is a marvelous cocktail involving champagne and fresh peach puree. I love a bellini, but I was looking for something slightly different and not in the mood for peaches, which are not in season anyway.

1/2 oz vanilla vodka
1/2 oz strawberry liqueur
champagne or sparkling wine, chilled

Pour vodka and liqueur into a chilled champagne flute. Top with chilled champagne.

Bliss out.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Memory Advent

As you all know, I loooooove lists, schedules, calendars, and plans of all kinds. Therefore, any season that not only is filled with holiday cheer and goodwill but also is centered around countdowns and calendars is right up my alley.

We have a number of advent calendars going--a traditional one my Mom gave to the girls, a small religious one from Jillson's Sunday School, and a "paper chain" one that benefits Nets for Life, a program which raises money to buy mosquito netting for families in sub-Sahara Africa who are at risk for malaria.

And then there's mine. I made this little 4x6 album to use as an advent calendar. I pulled 24 pictures from Christmases past, some patterned paper that makes me happy, and went at it. I adhered number stickers to the outside of the pockets where the photos are for each day in advent (fulfilling the "calendar" part).

Then I made plain, white cardstock inserts with cute paper tabs (about 2 minutes to produce). These go behind the patterned paper.

Every day I pull a blank card out from behind the paper, write some memories on it, or describe a meaningful advent or Christmas tradition, and stick it back in, this time on top of the patterned paper. See?

My favorite things about this advent calendar are: (1) The mish-mash of photos from different years. (2) By the end of the month I will have "scrapbooked" (i.e. preserved) 24 pictures and memories. (3) It's re-usable. If I want to do this again next year, I can take out these 24 photos and the 24 written memories, slip them into a binder or a divided page protector, and start fresh with 24 more photos.

To be honest, I probably won't do this again right away. But when the kids are older (and more photos have been amassed), they can help record the memories of what is meaningful to them about the season.

Cost of this project: $4 for the album, which comes from Target.
Inspiration for this project: You guessed it. Stacy Julian, of course. See her example and instructions here.