Monday, December 15, 2014

Ghosts of Christmas Past

Yesterday, we put up our Christmas tree.  It's always a bittersweet experience for me.  After using many of the ornaments that we have acquired over the years, I open the box of "treasures".  These are ornaments that have a special meaning for me.  In the past, I taught ceramic classes in my basement. I am a certified ceramic teacher, and we had a small shop set up there.  One year, I had a large basket of Christmas ornaments ready to paint, and asked each of my students to pick one out and paint it for me.  They were to sign and date it.  Last night, I pulled out the the nurse that Pap had painted, the Humpty Dumpty that Dee had painted, ornaments painted by my Aunt Sis and Aunt Eileen, and all the others.  There was the feathered snow owl given to us by Rod's brother, Brian just a few years before he chose to leave this earth.  There were other feathered birds so loved by my mom, and a trumpet for my dad.

The twins had made wedding soup for dinner, helped with the tree, and then baked chocolate chip cookies. But after they left and the house was quiet again, I started to think about holidays past.  When I was a child, my Aunt Betty lived next door.  She had no children, and was sort of a stern woman.  But when the family played pinochle, we saw a different side of her.  It was always the men against the women, and usually the men were victorious.  After losing a few games, Aunt Betty would get up and walk around her chair several times while shouting, "Wahoo!"  I'm not sure if it changed her luck, but it sure tickled us kids.  My Aunt Ethel would always accuse my Uncle Virg of cheating. As I got older, and was able to join the game as a "man", I realized that he didn't cheat, but talked little during the game, and concentrated on the cards that had been played.  We kids were given potato chips and pretzels to munch on while we watched TV, but were never permitted to have the Planter's mixed nuts that the grown-ups got.

I don't remember my Aunt Kit and Uncle Ray playing much pinochle.  My Uncle Ray was a wonderful wood worker, and introduced the family to "Marbles".  It was played on a board much like this one.   One year for Christmas, Uncle Ray made a marble board for each family, and I still have one of the boards that he made.   It was played much like the board game Parcheesi, but each player had 4 marbles in their color.  It was so much fun, and a game that we kids could play also. Each family had their own special bag containing their marbles and dice.  I still have my red leather pouch  which holds my marbles and dice. Aunt Betty's sun porch was quite large, and there would be several card tables set up in that room where there were marble games in progress,    After each game, people would switch tables to go another round.  If I close my eyes, I can still hear the laughter.
One of my favorite things about Christmas at Aunt Betty's was that she had a tree with bubble lights on it.  They fascinated me and I could sit for hours just watching those lights. Soon after we were married, I had a few strings of bubble lights, but they have all passed away. At this point in my life when so many family members have passed on, the memories of those Christmases past can still bring a smile.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Fa-La-La-La-La . . .

Oh yes, I'm thinking about decking the halls. I am definitely ready for Christmas decorating!   Rod finished the outside decorating yesterday, with the final lights on the front deck.

Normally, I sew up to Christmas Eve making last minute gifts for the family.  But not this year! Yesterday, I finished my last custom order for the store, packed it up, and shipped it this morning.  So, today my sewing machine gets put to bed until after the first of the New Year.  I have been loading free books onto my Kindle, and hope to do some serious reading over the next few weeks.

We had purchased Disney gift cards for our trip and somehow managed to return home with $500 of the cards.  We decided to use these for Christmas shopping.  I sold a $100 card to a family member, and used that money for some good deals on Amazon.  With the other $400, I bought gifts from the Disney store.  A few more purchases from J.C. Penney, Kohl's and Toys R Us, and my shopping is finished.  And, you can be sure, I did most of my shopping through Ebates.  I've earned nearly $1000 in rebates since I joined.  If you aren't a member of Ebates and would like to be, please use this link and I earn a little for referring you.

I still have to decide what food item I'm going to make to give to my neighbors.  In the past, I've done different quick breads, swedish tea rings, stollen, and carmel popcorn.  Do you do anything special food items for gifts?  Ideas would be appreciated.  Have a good week.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Little Bits of Everything

Is Mother Nature angry?  I'm thinking that she must be.  The weather lately has been more unpredictable than usual.  We were in Florida two weeks ago, and it was cold and rainy.  Not at all the sunny and warm weather that we expected.  Here in Pennsylvania, we have had highs in the 60's one day and then in the 30's the next.  And whether it is raining, sleeting, or snowing seems to depend on which side of the street you are standing.

I'm busy working on some new infinity scarves for the Esty store.  I had an order for a special one, and when I went to order that fabric, I was sucked in by some others.  I cut 15 scarves the other day and am busy sewing them so that they can be photographed for the store.

My Christmas shopping is finally finished.  I had originally planned on making many of my gifts this year, but we returned from Disney with $500 in gift cards.  I used them to make a big dent in gift buying.  Some of the other gifts were purchased from stores that participate in Ebates, which doesn't save money immediately, but gives you  rebate shortly after purchase.  We hope to start decorating this weekend.

I didn't have good luck with the Isagenix, it caused serious stomach issues for me.  So, now I am praying for some guidance to find a healthy eating plan that I can stick to.  One that will help my blood sugars as well as weight loss.

As the weather will be turning colder, I have been looking for some new soup recipes to add to my favorites.  Tonight we will be having a Turkey Wild Rice Soup that is on the Skinnytaste  website.  I've used quite a few of her recipes and have pleased myself and my family with most of them.  For my birthday, Mary gave me the new Skinnytaste cookbook.  All her recipes are Weight Watchers friendly, and she even posts the points.  Another great site for Weight Watchers recipes is Laaloosh.  I see browsing these two sites in my future.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Linda B's Crafts Halloween Sale

Just a reminder to all that we are having a Trick or Treat Sale on both of our Etsy sites:  Linda B's Crafts and The Frozen Mouse.  Details below.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Answers Appear When You Least Expect Them

A high school classmate had posted a request on Facebook for people to complete a survey  for a book that she's writing.  She needed opinions from ladies over 50 for part of her research.  At the end of the survey, you could indicate whether or not you would be willing to participate in a one-on-one interview.  Without thinking too much about it, I checked the yes box.  She contacted me to set up an appointment, and at that point I became very apprehensive.  We were never really close friends, and now I questioned how much I was willing to reveal about my life.

Friday morning, Donna arrived right on time.  I told her how I felt, and she told me that if a question made me uncomfortable to just let her know.  And the interview began.  Her questions were not at all what I expected. Some were about my childhood, some about my past relationships.  She asked about my faith, my regrets in life, and where I saw myself in the future.  After Donna left, I sat and reflected on the questions that she had asked and the answers that I had given.  This interview was supposed to be for her, yet it was very enlightening for me.  I began to realize that many of the answers that I had given involved my weight.  And it became clear that I needed to get serious about weight loss.  I've said that more times than I can count, but this time I prayed for a solution to present itself.  I have a bookshelf full of dieting books, another with books about diabetes and, for me, the two go hand in hand.  But I have never had the will power to stick with any program.

I had noticed that my one daughter had been losing weight, and her moods and outlook on life had changed.  When she came that afternoon, I asked her about what she had been doing and she told me that it was Isagenix.  She explained the program to me, and I couldn't help but think that God had presented an answer for me.  Although the program is a little costly, I asked her to help me order the program. It's an all natural program, with no gimmicks.  My products are due to arrive tomorrow.   I will start on Thursday.  I know in my heart that this is my last hope since I refuse to have any type of gastric surgery.  I'm posting my before photo here.  Please bear with me if I post photos as I progress.  Also, please pray that God will give me the the determination, the patience, and the will power to make this journey.

Friday, October 17, 2014


I had intended that this post on my blog would be a special one. One filled with photos and reviews.  I have heard so much about the Lancaster Central Market, in Lancaster PA.  Rod and I have planned on visiting this market several times, but something always came up.  Last week, we finally had the opportunity to visit.  We left last Friday at about 3:00 pm and drove to Lancaster. At a rest stop on the Turnpike, we  shared an Auntie Anne's pretzel - my first and it was delicious.  We had such a good time in the car - laughing, listening to music and loving the fall foliage.  We had reserved a one-room suite at a Comfort Inn, and although we had planned on having dinner at a Cracker Barrel restaurant (we had a gift card), we made a quick stop at a Wendy's and took it to our room.

Our room was beautiful, very similar to this photo.  After checking in, we went to our room and enjoyed our gourmet  fast food dinner.  We relaxed and watched some weird TV - one show on a Russian who tried breeding human and apes by artificial insemination.  Hey, it was on the Discovery Network!!  We always sleep in separate beds on trips, just because that way I don't get kicked out of bed.  Comfort Inn beds are generally very comfortable, but when I crawled into bed, I felt like someone had left their knees behind and I was sleeping on them.  I got out of bed and slept sitting on the sofa most of the night.  The next morning, Rod accused me of taking the best bed - his bed wasn't any better than mine.  We got dressed like a couple of old people whose bones were creaking.  Then it was on to the breakfast buffet.

The buffet was amazing.  What we thought were little pancakes were actually egg white patties.  There were sausage patties, lots of bread products, cereals, yogurt, fresh fruit, and juices.  The dining area was packed, and the other guests were friendly and pleasant.  We finished eating, checked out, and headed for Central Market.  It was raining, and a not so pleasant day.  When we arrived, we parked in a paid lot, and started to walk around the building to find an entrance that didn't have any steps.  Once inside, I was shocked at how crowded the market was; aisles were narrow, people were rude and pushing, and market items were much more expensive that what we have found at other markets.  We stayed only an hour, I bought some biscotti, some vegetables, and some loose tea.  Rod wasn't feeling well, so we started for home.  The further we drove, the sicker he got.  We were stopping along the turnpike for him to be sick.  Finally he said that he didn't think he could drive home.  I texted the twins, and they agreed to meet us at one of the exits.  Pam drove our car home, and Rod rode in the truck with Pat and was able to lie down in the back seat to sleep.  I was so glad to arrive home.  He finally started feeling better by Sunday evening.  It wasn't quite the weekend I had hoped for.

But on a lighter note, the Turnpike Commission has closed several service plazas along the turnpike, making opportunities for bathroom stops farther apart.  A little birdie told me that on the trip out, one of the twins (who remain nameless, but her name starts with Pa) stopped in a contruction area and used the portajohn that was there.  We are still laughing about that one.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Busy Bee

Things are buzzing here in the hive as I continue to work on items for my new Etsy store, The Frozen Mouse.  I've been working on wristlets from some of the new fabrics that I've ordered.  I've finished up Dumbo and Seven Dwarfs wristlets,and also the pink Minnie Mouse that had sold out, and today cut wristlets, lining and interfacings for bags made from Disney villainess,  101 Dalmations, Olaf, and two Star Wars fabrics.  I'm planning on having a special sale soon, but haven't decided on when.  I've had to rework the pattern to fit an iPhone 5 in the inner pocket, and then what does Apple do ??? They release the iPhone 6.  And it's even bigger.  In order to make the wristlet fit the larger iPhone, I not only have to increase the overall size, but also buy longer zippers.  And that means more cost.  Thus far, people want the larger size, but aren't willing to pay the increased cost.   Since I just got an iPhone 6 with an Otterbox  case, I need a new bag before our Disney trip in November.  But which will I choose?  Hmm, so many choices.