Thursday, December 31, 2009

Wednesday Link Love

sb10069377d-001, Maren Caruso /Photodisc

I bookmarked Sarah’s Chocolate Velvet Sauce recipe a while back and made a batch last week. I jarred up half to give as gifts and the other half I saved for our family to enjoy with ice cream that night. We loved it at dinner- it’s an amazing hot fudge sauce- then got up and headed out to see some Christmas lights. Imagine our surprise when we got home and found that our dog Willow had helped herself to the rest of the sauce. Believe it or not, she didn’t get sick, but I did- what a waste of good sauce! And why did she have to track it back to my bedspread and spread out?! Anyway, a really great recipe for it can be found here on a really great blog-

I’m thinking of giving these a try sometime over the next few days while the kids are at home……I’ll let you know!

What might you put in a moment jar if you could bottle it up and save it?

I may have put the fire bowl up too soon for winter. I’ve got a thing or two I’d like to visually get rid of.

I love the name of her blog, and especially love her description of her recent time at home with family as, “fishing in a stocked pond”. It just struck a chord with me as I am feeling the same way today! Lovely blog- she is a good writer.

Note to self- I want to learn this song, and I want to focus on it next Advent!

I’d like to make an Advent journal with this idea and tuck it away with the decorations so that I find it as a surprise next Christmas.

This is mighty happy! I may try to copy it to add some color back to my living room once the Christmas decorations go back to the attic.

This is a sweet birth story . Welcome to the world Evelyn!

And finallly......

a sweet video: Elderly couple Fran and Marlo walked into the lobby of the Mayo Clinic for a checkup and spotted a piano. They've been married for a whopping 62 years, and Marlo turned 90 this year

Sunday, December 27, 2009

A little link love….

Staircase with Candles by decorology.

There is rarely a day that I don’t find something over at Kind Over Matter that doesn’t just turn around my day. Take this one for example…..

This one makes my heart sing- a tiny house WITH a tub, and not just a tub but a claw foot tub!

I’ve linked to stories about Stephanie Nielson in the past, but this is the best written account of her story. It’s hard to read, but also such a reminder to me of the resilience of a family if they stick together. Stephanie is a hero to me.

Love these banners and admire the amount of time it must have taken to make them!

Too late for this year, but I hope I remember these at Christmas time next year.

This is what my son got for Christmas (he’d been wanting some for months) - can you see why I was hesitant to select for him and opted to just give him the money to choose his own? Read about them though- cool concept.

For each of the kids, I had a pendant made of hammered copper as a reminder of what I most hope for them as they mature- from Micah 6:8- they look like this and simply say Do Justice Love Mercy Walk Humbly.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Christmas 2009

My Christmas Pasts often fall into themes- the year of the tree mishaps or the year of the Barbies. If this year had a theme, it would clearly be this for me- the year I fell even more in love with my family.

This post could fall into the 8 Things category, or the edit, add, and appreciate, only it has more than 8 simple thoughts and I would not edit or add to all that I have appreciated over this past week.

On Saturday night we had our neighbors in for a little desert party and I fell asleep thinking of the irony of it all. I was laying down to sleep in what has for years been known as a neighborhood of poverty and here I was, so rich in friends and joy that I could hardly fall asleep for the delight of it all.

On Sunday the children of our church did their annual Christmas pageant and I will never ever ever tire of seeing little angels and tiny Mary’s. C sang an amazing song on Sunday morning at church that didn’t leave many dry eyes in the room. About 35 of us went out after the pageant to a Mexican restaurant together and had such fun. I was smitten with my church family.

The time with the kids has been better than I even hoped it could be. By the time both college kids arrived at the house, I was so anxious I was waiting outside on the porch for them. They have rested well and let me feed them well and they have made me laugh and laugh. We’ve watched movies and played games and each puttered on our own computers and even made a lazy attempt at reading a book together. We had a night out together along with my nephew laughing and seeing tacky Christmas lights and making a memory that we will bring up again and again I’m sure.

Last night we began a new tradition at our family gathering by getting carry out Chinese to take to Mother’s, and to our surprise there seem to be a lot of others who get their Christmas Eve meal at Double Dragon! Everyone was genuinely happy with the thoughtful and generous gifts that we received but more importantly we all just seemed so very happy to all be together. My precious nephew has said several times to me over the weeks before Christmas how much he looked forward to the family all being together and I was so aware of the tender care we all have for each other.

By midnight last night as Christmas Eve slipped into Christmas Day I was so overcome with gratitude and love that I just had to go wake DH up to say so. Poor guy is awakened by a blubbering spouse and of course thinks something terrible has happened, and only this morning did I learn that my girls also heard my muffled sobs and were alarmed. How long have they known me?! Surely by now they should know what to expect!

Today was spent with my extended family on my mother’s side of the family and I don’t think I’ve ever loved those sweet aunts and cousins more than I do on this day. You can count on Christmas lunch being one of the two or three best meals you will eat all year long. The “younger folks” hung out a bit after the two matriarchs left and woven into every story we told was this strong chord of love for our grandmother, each of us adding stories the others may not have heard. My children never knew her, and I was glad for them to hear her spoken of with such love and respect. There have been times when I’ve wondered how long we will still gather on Christmas over the years when our mothers and aunts are no longer with us, and today as we all talked, and as I could hear my kids raucous play in the living room with a younger cousin, I had a strong sense that we will indeed honor our tradition. All of our stories, each and every one of us, have the same beginning and our duty now is to help our children see that their stories start there too .

We stopped by a gathering at my friend and pastor’s house where a number of our friends were gathered and the house was warm and smelled of cider and all our friends were full and cozy and had fallen into that post Christmas dinner laziness.

And alllllllllllllllll of that to say that I am completely and totally besotted with my family- the one of origin and the ones I have chosen – God bless us every one.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

8 Things


This morning I sat right there in that comfy chair with two comfy friends on the couch and had the loveliest of meetings at Mrs. Potter’s Coffee. A down side to having a meeting with me in a public place is that I am too nosey a keen observer of all of the goings on around me. And so today, I share with you-

8 Things I Observed While In A Meeting About a Grant on the Friday Before Christmas

1. Several men were outside that window the entire time we were there painstakingly wrapping every tiny bit of a fairly small tree in front of the coffee shop in white lights. Now, those who know me already know that at this point in the holiday season, I think everything is sweet, and I found it sweet that they were being so meticulous in their work and that they were doing so about 4 weeks after most of the world put lights out. Good for them!

2. Oh, and talk about sweet. I saw a young man schlepping a big fruit tray down Main Street. He was headed, no doubt, to the office holiday luncheon and was bearing that thing up like the gift of the magi and I wanted to call his mother and tell her she had done well with that boy.

3. A group of grown men walked by who had obviously just been on a tour of the Hillerich and Bradsby bat factory in the next block and each of them had one of those miniature souvenir bats you get at the end of the tour. Again, very sweet how cute they were with those little bats.

4. A well dressed man brought a young woman in and sat down to my left where I could see them well and hear them well enough to know that he was offering her a new and special project at work. He launched into a very long pitch for it in spite of the fact that her immediate response at the get go was, “sounds great!”.

5. The efficient girls behind the counter taught us that the darker roasted coffees have less caffeine. That might be helpful to know for future reference. I mean, if I should ever learn to even like coffee.

6. Two people came in and sat behind me- I never saw them- but they were talking about sales and it sounded like one long string of cliché's! Make a note- in my study today I have found that people hanging Christmas lights on a cold windy day seem to have a lot more fun than people in sales.

7. Root beer made with cane sugar is too sweet for me, the queen of sweet.

8. My friend has put together a really great grant proposal.

Meeting Adjourned.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Wednesday Link Love

So, how fun would it be to do a 12 spot canvas and do art in a square per month?! Check out how this one was made..

Speaking of the new year, Andrea at Superhero Journal has some great ideas to help you reflect on 2009 and move into 2010.

Loving this wreath because it steps away from red and green and is bright and happy and unruly.

Isn’t this dreamy?!

A few crafts that have caught my eye- this clock, this sweet angel, and these beautiful felt creations- flowers and ornaments.

And since I’m pretty sure I’ve gone AT LEAST a couple of weeks without a link to anything related to chalkboard-y stuff- here is one fun table.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Music Monday

My son introduced me to Coffey this weekend, and I've spent wayyy too much time checking him out. His voice and range are so much like my son's. Check out some of his other videos, and you can find some of his music up on iTunes.

Monday, December 14, 2009

8 Things


8 Things I hope we do over winter break…..

1. Hope the kids get to hang out with Nan some- and Mother Dear too.

2. All of us go to a movie together and maybe have some home movie nights. Suggestions? Three of us have seen The Blindside, but are willing to see it again as a group……

3. Play games at night like the gold old days at least twice during the break. No matter how many games we have we always gravitate back to Phase Ten and we never ever play all the way through to the end.

4. I hope the kids will humor me and let us read The Help together over the break. The older two complain often about never getting to read any fiction any more, and since all the girls ever read are books with vampires, this might a nice opportunity for them.

5. I hope my kids have some fun times with their cousins and with old friends.

6. I hope to feed them well with all of their favorites. And I hope to be relaxed and totally off duty as a micromanager.

7. Hope we can do a tacky light tour outing at some point. I’m sort of interested in doing that cavern light tour. Anyone been? Worth 20 bucks?

8. I hope we are all still speaking by the end of the break!

I have my own personal list too!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Wednesday Link Love


This is my Advent calendar I made last year, and I’ve loved rediscovering it this year. I’ve seen some other cute ideas this year- like this one and this one.

So, I’m all about Christmas and Christmas decorations and such these days. I actually have mine up! But it’s not too late for me to make one of these if I have a spare evening…. I really love the piece that inspired it, but I don’t sew.

I think I”d be the only person in this house who would LOVE this, but I would indeed LOVE it.

If you aren’t a big blog reader, you may have not seen this. It has shown up on several of the ones I read and I think I see some of these in my future…..

Isn’t this a comfy room?

Just in case you, like me, have love dreamy paper lanterns, here is a great source….

I’d be happy with a love tree. The first year I lived out on my own I made all of my ornaments- bread dough rainbows- and a few have survived through all these years and will find their way to my tree next week.

Okay, I am a perfectly happy person who knows how very wealthy I am, having all I need and very few real wants (as opposed to grandiose desires for beach houses and stuff) but one of the reasons I get away with that is I don’t look around too much. But you know I love Amy Powers and this week she blogged her Christmas list and I found myself consumed with desire for some of the things she listed- like THIS- oh how I want every single roll and color!

And then there is this precious tiny house…….I. Love. This. Tiny. House. So much in fact that I spent a huge amount of time a few minutes perusing the internet to find a more affordable option which is how I found THIS which is an even tinier house that I love even more and learned a little of the history of these charms, and then I found one on ebay!! With another several hours few mintues of research, I may even discover a cheap imitation.!

Best to you!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Music Monday.......late

Well worth your time to check this guys other hundreds of songs on youtube. Being unable to carry much of a tune myself, I am in awe of those who can pull off acapella music.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Edit, Add, Appreciate

Edit- I did it! I broke through the barrier that has paralyzed me for years as I struggled to get the Halloween decor out of the way before Christmas was truly here. I also did something that I hope I remember to do next year. I took all of the fall stuff down, and left the living room bare for a few days, then began working the Christmas stuff in at a leisurely pace rather than the one all nighter I used to pull switching out the seasons. Gave me lots of time to appreciate the layers and layers of memories that each of my decorations come wrapped with.

Add- I won’t say what, but we did do a little decorating that we’ve never done before. I think we are all just so excited to have the 2 college kids come home that we have had more fun getting things ready for their homecoming.

Appreciate- Our Advent worship has been building on a series- A Light In the Window was the first week. Yesterday was A Knock At the Door. Next week is A Quickening of the Heart, followed by Christmas Sunday when we celebrate A Meal At The Table. I am enjoying the incremental process of preparing my heart for the Christ child.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

8-ish Things

xmaspug.jpg santa pug image by sandradeen

So, I’ve been perusing my extensive iTunes Christmas playlist in the hopes of coming up with a top 8 and it just couldn’t be narrowed down to that, especially since I like each song for different reasons. That being the case, I’m breaking it down a bit.

8 Christmas Songs that Really make me happy and possibly drive too fast

1. This is where the “ish” comes in. The number one choice is, well, two. I’ve mentioned before that I don’t allow Christmas music until the day after Thanksgiving, and on that great day I wake the kids up with the music blaring and the first two songs are my favorites just because they have been at the top of the wake-up list for years. They are Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays by NSync AND Christmas Time’s A Comin’ by Emmylou Harris.

2. I feel so shallow revealing the song that really means Christmas to me. The reason it makes me happy is so simple- the beat is fun and when the girls were little we heard it in the car on the way to a nighttime basketball game and we had such fun grooving to it in the car that it will forever have this happy happy association…..and so my friends- it is Hey Santa by Carnie and Wendy Wilson.

3. Feliz Navidad. Yes, we sing along with Jose’ every time, singing in syllables, not words, having no idea what we are singing.

4. My parents had the classic Bing Crosby Christmas album and I love every single song on it, but Mele Kalikimaka is the one I’m most likely to sing along with.

5. Christmas Don’t Be Late by Alvin and Chipmonks. It is what it is. Just can’t help it. One year in the office I worked in they let us bring in Christmas tapes and they played it while we worked. Let me say that while this one song is fun and brings back fun memories, there really was no good reason for the Chipmonks to have recorded an entire album nor for my coworker to have bought it and brought it in.

6. Just plain fun, good beat and easy to dance to- gotta love Run Rudolph Run by Sheryl Crow

7. While the Beach Boys were fine enough, I prefer Straight No Chaser’s version of Little Saint Nick.

8. This year I have a tie on my newest favs- Christmas Won’t be the Same by the Plain White T’s, and then although we don’t have tv, I’d have to live on another planet to not have heard about Glee, and I’m loving their version of Last Christmas.

And to show you that I love to balance my fun with the bittersweet, I give you my list of songs that make me cry pretty much every time.

1. I’ll Be Home for Christmas- by pretty much anyone EXCEPT Alvin and the Chipmonks.

2. Walking in the Air by George Winston which is from the Snowman soundtrack. That song is so beautiful, but it always reminds me of a sadness that my family experienced on Christmas a good 20 years ago.

3. I love this song in it’s own rite, but also love that C sang it in church and so it’s a double happy cry for me for me when I hear Joseph’s Lullaby by MercyMe.

4. The Magnificat by Down To Earth- This is a very very integral part of my church family Christmas, so I love not only the song and the singer, but the piece of home it grounds me to each year.

5. So mellow and sweet- James Taylor singing Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas

6. Because it stirs me deep inside, All We Like Sheep from Handel’s Messiah.

7. My very dear friend Faye introduced me to Amy Grant’s Tennessee Christmas. I liked it well enough and always thought of her when I heard it, but it nearly broke my heart the first year after she moved back to Tennessee and I was missing her so much, and still evokes a sad feeling of that loss all these years later.

8. Christmas Canon by Transiberian Orhestra because my sweet K who is so tender and earnest LOVES it, and that alone makes me weepy.

Okay……truth be told, I was a bit hurt tonight when I saw that on facebook there is a group called BAN THE CHRISTMAS SHOES SONG. Am I the only person left in the world who still gets a tad bit weepy over that one? Or how about the one called Christmas Carol about the orphan who gets adopted on her birthday which happens to be Christmas…..and her name is Christmas Carol. Truth be told, I bet you do too.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

A letter to Geraldine

holding hands

Dear Geraldine- 

Today would have been your 44th birthday.   Ten years ago when two heartbroken little girls came to live with us, their grief counselor taught me to build in as many traditions and rituals to their lives as possible to help them frame up a new normal.

One of those traditions has been to celebrate you every year on your birthday.  Until only a few years ago, the girls baked a red velvet cake every year.  Every year, we have each written a letter to you which S has been the faithful steward of, hiding them away under her bed in a box.  The first year, we lit the candles on your cake and decided to each read the letter we had written to you aloud.  The girls letters were pretty conversational, updating you on the things they were involved in like learning to ride a bike and being on the basketball team.  Mine was a letter of love and thankfulness that you had entrusted these treasures to us.  When I couldn’t read it without crying, DH took it to read….but he couldn’t make it through either, and then we both felt a little silly as the girls seemed bewildered.  You see, they have continued a long and newsy conversation with you all along, so it is less sentimental than practical to them.

Today I place the 10th letter to you into S’s tender care.  It says the same thing this year that it has said every year.  Thank you.  Thank you.  Thank you.  You could have picked two people who had way more experience at parenting, you could have picked a black mother who would have known better how to do their hair, you could have picked a family with better financial resources.  You could not have picked anyone who would have loved them any more. 

Wednesday Link Love

There are some great ideas here on displaying your Christmas cards. I don’t anticipate a lot of cards this year…..because most of the people who send me cards have probably dropped me off the list after a couple of years of not hearing from me. My goal is to at least send a few- I have a few old friends that I hear from once a year at Christmas and I love hearing about their lives even though we will likely never even see each other again. I used to not care for the old Christmas letters, probably because for about 20 years I think ours surely said, “Sue is still single, still living in the same tiny apartment, and still working in insurance.” But then I had kids…….and I could not resist updating folks on their ages, grades, what sports they were playing, what instruments they were learning, blah blah blah. Hey, I feel a letter coming on.

I am a sucker for a tender blog post, and this one hit the spot.

The latest from Improv Everywhere, and what a fun one it is!

Check out the cool matchbox advent calendar. What a fun swap!

I wouldn’t have to own it- if I could just go there from time to time and take a nap in that white room and get a soda out of the turquoise fridge and then step outside to the beach!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009


So, it’s 11:58 and I’m about to say good-night to facebook when a friends status says to run right out and look at the moon, that it would be worth the bracing cold………and I did……and it was……and it looked like this- actually much cooler than this, but this is the closest picture I could find. It looks like the clouds have opened in a perfect circle, a rainbow is around the edges of those clouds, and then smack in the middle is the moon! Anyone know what this is called?

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Edit, Add, Appreciate


Edit- Call me a sentimental old sap…..because, well, I am. I loved having three towels hanging on the kids’ towel rack all weekend so much that this morning I couldn’t even bear to take the other two down for the laundry. All day long I felt “homesick”, wishing I were at home and that so were all of my kids for just one more day of bantering. Truth is, after one more day the magic would probably have worn off and we could have easily all been at each other’s throats. Anyway, I miss them.

Add- For the last several years I have found myself so far behind on the decorating schedule that I have just surrendered and hung the advent stockings between two jack o’lanterns. This year I have a goal to have at least the fall stuff cleared away and maybe even some Christmas stuff out by the end of the week. Ask me on Sunday how successful I’ve been! The kids made me promise not to decorate the tree until they are home. Are you kidding? I’ve been letting them decorate that tree for years and I stay completely out of it! Why would I start back now? It will be waiting for them when they get home.

Brandon McReynolds

Appreciate- Last week was my nephew’s birthday. Nineteen years ago on the day before Thanksgiving, that sweet baby turned my world upside down. Everything from that point is marked in my heart as before Brandon or after Brandon. I fell in love with that boy in a way I had never loved another person, and my heart was (and is still) completely wrapped around his tiny finger. There is just nothing greater in life than being an aunt. (Well, rumor is that being a grandmother is pretty wonderful!) The down side is that I can name, and flinch when I do it, almost everything that has ever made him sad because it has made me sad too. Recently he has had a major heartbreak, and I’d give everything I have to make him happy again, but I know he will find his own way, and he is already doing a good job at that. I am loving watching the man he is growing into. He loves to help others more than anyone I’ve ever seen. He has big dreams of working in politics someday, and I am excited beyond words that he wants to work to make the world a better place. Never mind that we are not aligned on much politically! I am just so proud of him. It makes me over the moon happy that he is such good friends with my kids. On the day that he was born, the world became so so rich, and I am one wealthy woman to get to be his aunt.