Sunday, December 23, 2012

Symbolic Christmas Ornaments

Three years ago I wrote a post about our Christmas tree and some of what we refer to as our "special ornaments". Our special ornaments symbolize something of Christ. We have plenty of simple decorative ornaments, but pride of place goes to our special ones.
Our family tradition the night we decorate our tree is to eat cranberry oat bars and drink hot chocolate from the Polish tea set Nate's mother gave me. We read each scripture scroll as we put it on the tree, and we explain each symbolic ornament. It is such a joyful time to teach Suzy aspects of our faith.
We try to add at least one to our collection every year. If we find more than that, then yay!
We added these in 2010 and 2011. I don't remember which ornament is from which year, but it is possible that they are all from 2010. The year 2011 was a bit rough.

This is a dove with an olive branch in its beak. This reminds us of the story of Noah and God's providence of salvation and peace.

This translucent cross is to symbolize James 1:17: "Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change."

Here is another nativity, definitely with more gold and glitter than Joseph and Mary actually experienced on the night of Christ's birth.

Here is a porcelain heart with a dove in the center to represent the Holy Spirit in believers' hearts.

This is a little song bird made from paper printed with the lyrics of "O Come All Ye Faithful" to remind us to sing praises to God.

This year has brought a bumper crop of special ornaments.

This is to tell us of the joy in Christ. And it has birds. I have a lot of birds on my tree, sort of an unintended side theme to my decor.

This ornament is extra special to me. This autumn I was in a women's bible study, and we read the verses Heb. 6:19-20 "We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain, where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf, having become a high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek."
I loved it so much that I searched for an anchor ornament. I found a rather cheesy glass one wrapped in mini Christmas lights. That was a no. Then in the home decor section of Hobby Lobby, I found this anchor. It was a robe hook, but the hook was easily removed. I was going to spray paint it gold to match my other ornaments, but Nate made a good case for leaving it like it is. It does have a good, ancient, well-used look to it, doesn't it?

This ornament was an serendipitous addition. I received it at our church's ladies' ornament exchange party. It was a trifecta: gold, the word hope, and a bird. Perfect.

This is a fitting one to end this post on. It was made by my pastor's wife. It is a sycamore leaf from the tree in front of the church. This is to symbolize our new home and to remind us to be thankful of all the ways and places the Lord has led us.
I hope you have a joyful celebration of Christ this Christmas! Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Preparing for Christmas

Leading up to Christmas I go into a crafting frenzy. I bunker down. I post signs like this on my craft room door:

It's made all the more frantic because I don't finish the projects in order. I start one. I start another. And another. And another. Then I go back and work a bit on this one and that one, with the pace and desperation increasing as the days get closer to Christmas.
My list of projects and their level of completeness:
1. Crocheted doll afghan with matching pillows - 95%
2. Wooden doll bed with sheets and mattress- 5%. All I have accomplished with that is buying the fabric and arranging to have the bed made, which I will then paint.
3. Two dresses for Suzy - One halfway done, one not started.
4. Regency style doll dress - not started.
5. Doll food made of salt dough (tea party foods and breakfast foods) 80%. Maybe 70. Most pieces painted, only one sealed.
6. 12 Scripture scroll ornaments - 20%
7. 8 floral felt hair bows for Suzy's friends at church- finished.
8. 5 dress-up mustaches for their brothers - not started.
9. Hat and glove set - finished.
10. Decorative box to hold play food- not started.
11. Three dozen treat bags of peppermint fudge for the Christmas cookie boxes for the church shut-ins - not started.
12. Advent calendar - finished, but only for twelve days. Maybe I will add more next year.
11. Four cups of pretend soda for dolls - 75%.
13. Make an anchor ornament with Hebrews 6:19-20 on it - 50%. I bought an anchor shaped towel hook and removed the hook. Just have to put the scripture on it.

If you noticed, there are only three things finished. They are relatively small projects, but still. It's a start. Here they are, sixteen days before Christmas, all I have accomplished.

The hat and glove set, worthy of Fancy Nancy:

My Twelve Days of Christmas Advent Calendar, made entirely of odds and ends from the closet:

And the felt floral hair bows, thanks to my mother who supplied me with die-cut felt flowers:

So there it is.
This past week Suzy had a pretty terrible case of tonsillitis. She was a poor sickly baby and I didn't have much time for projects, so I'm a little behind schedule. So the next week is crazy - catching up on school, candy making, sewing, painting, and lots of coffee.
Every year at this time I regret not beginning to plan in June. And every year Nate has to calm me down and remind me of the reason we celebrate. He does a good job. Though he should probably start that in June too.
That's the reason I want to add an ornament with Hebrews 6:19-20 to my tree.
Heb. 6:19-20 "We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain, where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf, having become a high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek."
Before I disappear back into my pit of procrastination craft room, I want to wish everyone a merry Christmas and a joyful celebration of Christ our hope.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

The Truth About Me...

When Nate and I joined Elm Avenue Baptist Church in August, we each gave our testimonies. Public speaking is not my thing, but at the same time, I wanted to let this new group of people know who I really am. I'm glad I did, because it turned out to be a very sweet time with my church family. Since then I've had several great spiritual conversations with ladies in the church. We've gotten to know each other as sisters in Christ - and three of them were baptized in the following months! I was hesitant to post this on my blog, though, because, well...I have this accent. And I cry a couple of times. But then I thought I might as well put it up for all ten people who read my blog. You've all heard me cry before anyway. This mp3 is the whole service. If you fast-forward to 10:30 you will avoid the announcements and most of my awkward mic checks.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Vintage Fall Dress

A few years ago I found a few old, cut up patterns for 99¢. I had to get them, regardless of sizes. They might come in handy one day, right? I especially liked this one from the sixties:

It was a child's size six, which is my daughter's size now. See, it was worth the wait. :o) I planned to cut up an old lightweight gray wool skirt of mine to make the middle style dress, trimmed with magenta velvet ribbon. I would of course modify the length to fall somewhere between the impractical maxi skirt and the indecent mini. Seriously, girls of the sixties, what did you wear under those things? It looks like you'd flash somebody with every step.
The tissue pattern pieces were very fragile, so I covered them all, including the envelope and instructions, in clear contact paper. That took an entire afternoon and a whole roll of contact paper!
When I laid out the pattern pieces on the gray wool, I discovered I didn't have enough fabric. I went to my fabric stash, ready to scrap the gray wool idea completely. Happily, I found a dress shirt of my husband's that was white with tiny gray and pink stripes. Perfect match! I went back to the drawing board (literally - I traced the figure in the middle of the envelope picture, adjusted the length, and colored it in like the two fabrics) and came up with a design of a striped bodice with a gray skirt. I added light pink velvet ribbon trim.
I love how it turned out. I could have taken the waist in a bit more to account for my daughter being a skinny minny, but I think she looks adorable in it anyway.

She wanted to show off the rose hair bow we made:

She got a little goofy after a few pictures:

And then snuggly. Love my girl! She may have a few more dresses from this pattern coming her way!

The Southern Institute

Friday, September 21, 2012

In Which I Completely Shame My Dog....

Living in a city, I can't allow my dog to do her business wherever nature demands. Nope, I have to clean it up. I had never picked up dog poop before, having grown up in the country. Our dogs were outside creatures, and we never made much ado about their potty habits. I don't remember my parents picking it up. They likely never gave it much thought, but if they did, they probably thought if their children were careless enough to step in it, then they deserved what they got - as long as we didn't track it into the house!
Now that picking up poop is a daily exercise in the suppression of disgust, I tried to make it more pleasant. I made a cute bow-shaped doggie bag holder. Don't ask me why I thought that would make steaming dog poo less gross, it just seemed like it might help to have a little cuteness around the whole process.
The first time I put it on Bibi, she hung her head in shame. She just slunked around on her walk, seemingly embarrassed of what the other dogs might think of her.
The bow was easy enough to make. It's is a simple rectangle with an envelope closure in the back. It gets a nice puffy shape when I stuff it with plastic bags.
Hanging her head in shame:

I like her grim-faced resignation in this picture:

Nate refuses to put it on her when he's walking her. I can't imagine why.
The Southern Institute

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Strawberry Cupcakes

Last month, or was it two months ago...time kind of got away from me this summer...anyway, at some point this summer our pastor went to preach at a conference in Mexico City. I wanted to bring dinner over to his wife one night while he was away. I asked my family for suggestions about a dessert. Suzy was very gung-ho for strawberry cupcakes, but I don't really like strawberry cake from a mix. I decided to make Sprinkle's Strawberry Cupcakes.
Here they are, fresh out of the oven. You can tell Suzy insisted that I double the pink food coloring:

Here are the cupcakes all dressed up to go out:

It took me most of the afternoon to make these, but it was worth it. I was also trying to make fajitas and salsa at the same time, do that probably slowed down the process.
These cupcakes were so good! I made them later in the summer with peaches, and that was REALLY good, even if they overflowed the muffin tins. I'm still making adjustments in the flour/baking soda ratio to get it just right. The altitude in Grand Junction is over 4,500 feet, so that affects most of my baking recipes. I'm pretty sure the recipe could be adjusted for other fruit. So many possibilities - raspberry, blueberry, blackberry, mango, pineapple, kiwi, banana....oh, and combos! Strawberry banana, blueberry pineapple, raspberry mango...I'm feeling a baking spree coming on. I think I'll just go to bed and wait for it to pass.

Monday, June 18, 2012


I titled this post Moo-ooom to remind my mother of what I called her as a teenager - Mom, with two syllables and a whine in the middle.
I love my mom, I really really do. I don't live near her, so I only see her maybe twice a year, and sometimes I don't talk to her every week, but I think about her everyday.
She is the most unintentionally funny person I know! She says the most hilarious, sometimes shocking, things in a completely wide-eyed, guileless way. She left a comment on I wrote a post about Knick-knacks that to me is funnier than the whole post. I makes me laugh every time I go back and read it.
The key to her funniness is that she is completely not self-aware, and unfailingly honest. And she has no filter between her brain and her mouth. Like the last time I was at her house, I noticed I had put on one red shoe and one brown. Laughing, I asked my mom if she noticed anything wrong with my outfit. She looked me up and down, nodded, and said, "That sweater!"
Just like she doesn't know she is a fount of inadvertent zingers, she doesn't know she's beautiful. Isn't that an old country song? Anyway, my mom has been blessed with thick, wavy, dark brown hair, jade-green eyes, and beautiful light olive skin. She has a natural, unpretentious beauty. She never went in for trendy, artificial hairstyles and makeup. Truth be told, she was a bit of a hippy during my childhood. No makeup, long, long flowing hair. I didn't like it then. It was the eighties, and I wanted her to have a perm, waterfall bangs, and side wings, (all carefully constructed with an entire can of White Rain hairspray) contoured blush, and blue eyeshadow. Possibly lips lined in a darker color than her lipstick. A Dynasty-esque suit or a funky Cyndi Lauper outfit would have been appreciated. I am glad she didn't take fashion advice from eight year old me. I look back at pictures of her from childhood onward, she was always gorgeous. She just had no idea she was. She thought she was a plain, homely little thing.

She's the chubby-cheeked brunette in the middle.

My grandpa, my mom, and her blond siblings.

She still looks like this. I see that expression all the time. I think her eyes look a lot like my sister's in this picture.

Matching her sweater to her eyes. I really want a cardigan and shirt just like that!

Here she is in the mid to late eighties, not that you can tell from the complete lack of garishness.

This is my mom and her sister Lisa when my mom was about six months pregnant with my little brother. She was thirty-six.

Isn't she cute in a hat? Looks like my dad thinks so.

Judging by the size of my brother, Mom must have been over forty here. Can you believe it?

I love to see her smile!

My lovely sister and mother. Don't they look alike?

Painting Suzy's nails.

Mom in her fifties. And see, I put up a picture of me before I lost weight because it's a good one of her. That's love!

Mom with her siblings Mike, Lisa, and Sherry.

She's even cute organizing a VBS.

A girls day out with her friends.

See? Beautiful!
She thinks she looks old now, but really, she is fifty-four, and people would think she was not quite forty-five. If she keeps aging so slowly, soon people will meet her and ask me, "Oh, is this your little sister you're always talking about?" (While that might be an understandable assumption, I would still kick you in the shins for asking.)
My mom also doesn't think much of herself as a mother, and that may be partly my fault. I am always writing the funny things she says or does on Facebook. I can't help it. She's comedy gold.
My mother was simply the best mom I could have had growing up. For some reasons, I remember a lot of things when I was three. We lived in an apartment in Springtown, Texas, that year, so I know anything I remember in that setting must have been when I was three.
That year I found a piece of notebook paper in the bathroom. It had markings on it. It was probably a grocery list, but it interested my little self. I took it to my mom and asked her what it was. She told me, "Oh, it says..." I don't remember what she said after that, because I asked her how it could say something? It can't talk! So she explained to me letters and how they make words. She used a white crayon to draw puffed letters on black construction paper, and cut them out. I thought those were pretty spiffy letters. My mom sat on the floor with me, and helped me move the letters around to make words. I still remember the black letters with white outlines spelling "LORI" laying on the floor.
From that year, I remember her making yarn pompoms with me, reading Sesame Street books to me regularly (two distinct memories: Mom reading a new Sesame Street book to me on a blanket outside Granny's house, and at Grandma's house during a storm, while I sucked on a green safety pop. I hate green lollipops, I don't know if that's why it stood out. I vaguely remember Aunt Sherry replacing it with a purple one.) I remember her making orange jello squares with shredded carrots in it and telling me it was delicious. It probably wasn't, but I totally fell for it. Mom, you were Deceptively Delicious before it was a thing!
I remember her in the kitchen of that apartment. There was window overlooking the dining nook. I was sitting in the nook at my child's table (I think it was an Apple Dumpling table, but I'm not certain.) I asked her, "Mama, can I pray to the devil?" She said, "No, you can only pray to God, not the devil."
"Not even to tell him how much I don't like him?"
"No, you can never, ever pray to the devil."
I still really wanted to. I thought somebody ought to give him a piece of their mind. But there was my mom, calmly keeping me from toddler Satanism. Actually, I must have really freaked her out. When I was that age, I mainly colored with black and brown crayons, mostly ghosts and vampires. She probably dropped a pan of carrot jello when I brought up the devil.
I remember hearing her and Daddy talking and laughing one night while I was in bed. I got up, and she told me it was New Year's. (That would mean it was just two weeks from my fourth birthday.) She let me drink some of her eggnog, told me Happy New Years, kissed me, and put me back to bed. It was probably 8:30, but still. I felt as if I had discovered some wonderful secret of grow ups. They stay up late and drink eggs! It was lovely.

Three year old me. I'm the frilly one in the middle.

There was also the rather painful lesson she taught me about justice, when I told my little sister that we should push her doll carriage, then my grocery buggy, off of the second-story landing of our apartment to see what would happen. When I saw what happened after I pushed hers off, I changed my mind about the buggy. I considered it a lesson learned. My mother did not. In probable addition to a spanking I don't remember, she made me give my precious, precious buggy to replace my sister's busted carriage. I sulked on that one for a long time. I mean, come one! Wendy let me push it off. I clearly had consent! Now I would just like to say thank you, Mom, from keeping me from becoming a total little terror.
That's just my memories from my third year. I have thirty more years I could tell about! I love you, Mom. I think you are completely wonderful in every way. You are a treasure in my life. I am forever grateful that you are my mother.