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.