Sunday, December 25, 2011

belief.

38:365 believe.

"can you prove any of the stuff you believe in? my daughter asked me & when I said that's not how belief works, she nodded & said that's what she thought but she was just checking to make sure she hadn't missed a key point."
~ storypeople

happy holidays and merry christmas! I'm going to take a short break from my computer to enjoy time with my family...will be back before the new year.

Friday, December 23, 2011

an early christmas gift.

...from katie & sara. a matinee performance of the nutcracker followed by cocktails and dinner at ecco.

when the girls were young, the nutcracker was always part of our holiday, but we hadn't been in years. I think it's time to bring back the tradition!

the fox was decked out for the holidays and so were we.
before the nutcracker
the performance was wonderful ... and after the curtain call, one of the dancers proposed to the snow queen! awwww.....
36:365 the nutcracker.
ecco is just a few blocks from the fox and the bar opens at 4pm. perfect timing.

dinner was delicious (salad and pizza, risotto and ricotta cheesecake) and the conversation was so much fun. weddings. jobs.  making the most out of study abroad. families. holiday traditions. favorite songs.
dinner at ecco
thank you girls - I loved every minute!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

holiday bookclub.

...one of my favorite december traditions is hosting holiday bookclub. we don't discuss a book, but there is still plenty of conversation. and food. and wine. which is really what our bookclub is all about!
holiday bookclub
thank you, katie, for a great photo! (click to see who's who)

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

cranberry bliss.

...text message from sara, 1:52 pm this afternoon:
Bought the stuff to make cranberry bliss bars!
Should smell blissful when you get home :-)
oh my yes. I wish you could smell this.
34:365 cranberry bliss.

as much as I love coming home to chill, coming home to family, warmth, lights...and the smell of baking, is the best!

(thank you sara, it's wonderful!)

Sunday, December 18, 2011

sunday in the park.

...I fumbled through my mittens to create my 2011 top ten christmas playlist on my iphone.

holly did get just a bit impatient. my fingers did get really really cold.

and when I got home I asked sara to download one more song. so now my 2011 holiday list has 11 songs.

I think it's perfect!

what music is on your playlist this holiday season?

Friday, December 16, 2011

fifty years. a celebration of love & family.

...today is my parents' golden anniversary. I love that our whole family was able to share in their celebration last month. so no party today. instead, I have a few images of the book to share.

that's one great thing about creating a book on-line - you can get more copies very easily! we ordered nine additional copies - one for each sibling and one for each grandchild. I have to say, I think the pile looks pretty impressive on my counter!

the cover photo is from their wedding. this is one of my all-time favorite photos. they look so happy...and stylish!

for the rest of the book, my sister-in-law and sister helped compile the photos - which meant a lot of scanning! we started with several hundred images and I pared it down to about one hundred for the final book. I used paislee press' off to press digital layouts to create the pages. and then I uploaded those finished jpg files to blurb to make the book. this is my first blurb book, so I can't say if it's easier to upload finished pages...but for me, the whole book thing was enough of a learning curve that it helped I knew how to use photoshop!

the book is organized by decade. each section starts with an opening two-page spread and a tag-line to define the decade.

here's the one for the 1960's.

and for the 2010's.

then there are detail spreads that tell a story from the decade. like this one about snow and camping from the 70's.

it's a good thing my mom took a lot of photos. and that she put them into albums for each of us. (and I am very happy now to have those photos all digital!)

each decade closes with another two-page spread. here's half of the 1990's.

and half of the 2000's.

the final book is forty-four pages total. I am really pleased with how it turned out. and reminded again how blessed I am to be part of my mom and dad's story.

mother & daddy - I love you. thank you for living the example of love. and family.  xxoo - m.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

holiday maggiano's.

...the tradition continues. as good as ever. I guess that's what makes good friends.
maggiano's holiday lunch
a quick photo on the way out the door - love the holiday sparkle!
we enjoyed fried calamari, maggiano's salad, pasta, wine and more pasta to take home. but no dessert (too full - not sure what we did differently to have room last year)! it was fun to talk about the holidays. and families. and weddings. and dogs. and - for just two minutes! - work!

thank you ladies for a wonderful time!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

wip wednesday.

...what's left to knit (for christmas gifts).
28:365 left to knit.

since two of the recipients read this blog, it seems safer to post an in progress photo of the ever-dwindling yarn instead of the ever-growing projects. with 12 days to go, I'm feeling pretty good.

...so good, in fact, that I've ordered the yarn to knit the maggiknits piece. I want to wear it for new years. when we meet rob's family for the first time :-)

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

tuesday unwrapped.

...as much as I love letting these tuesday posts be completely spontaneous, I was a bit worried driving home from work at 5:30 that I had nothing in mind. the only photos I'd taken today were of a new trunk show at the shop (a blog post there coming tomorrow). I was thinking something along the lines of welcome home - I turned on the porch light and the tree lights (and turned up the heat :-) - and took holly out for a walk.

and then the moment hit me. that walk. the simply company of my best four-legged friend. the routine. the 30 minutes to unwind* (even better when it's not cold outside). love love need this time.
27:365 evening walk.

especially this time of year when it's accompanied by snowmen aglow.
snowmen aglow

*if you're familiar with myers-briggs, I am a committed "I" type (INTJ to be exact). working in a yarn shop for six straight hours every tuesday drains nearly every bit of energy I have. this walk with holly recharges me.

Monday, December 12, 2011

hello monday.

my desk at about 7am this morning
...hello to only four more days before the girls are home.
...hello to finally having my december journal caught up!
...hello to a holiday lunch today with my disciple class.
...hello to continuing a years-long maggiano's tradition on thursday with janel and lisa.
...hello to having sara's gift over half done, and to katie's over three quarters.
...hello to holiday postcards ready to mail!
...hello to a long to-do list, and to feeling like it's actually do-able.
...hello to feeling the magic of the season.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

sunday in the park.

...the crisp air and clear blue sky were energizing. the little pops of red made me happy.

but it was the sunshine that really made me smile.
25:365 flare.

grateful, every day.

...an email from big picture classes (where I'm taking ali edwards' one little word class) arrived in my inbox yesterday announcing a new self-paced class called grateful, every day.

this one caught my eye because big picture classes will  donate 100% of the proceeds from my $10 registration fee to the charity of my choice, and they'll match that $10 100%, for a total donation of $20.

wow!

I've wanted to learn art journaling for years and the teacher mou saha, says her goal for this project is to create an art journal exploring the blessings in our own lives. what sealed the deal was looking at the supply list. a class that has me using watercolor paper and three different kinds of faber-castell pens seems like a perfect way to start.

so I signed up. (note that I wasn't able to designate a specific charity, but I was able to select one area from a list of four - women, children, animals and world relief). still a great deal. and a wonderful way to start this sunday.

(sorry for the long silence here - things are good, just very busy!)

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

tuesday unwrapped.

...treasuring this morning moment for two reasons:

first, that brilliant cardinal red is seen best against the neutral landscape and bare trees of winter. I don't really think of winter as a pretty season, but it is. beautiful.

and second, I was already late for work (spent a few extra minutes on my hair, ugh!), but I saw the bird as I was backing out the driveway and knew it could be the moment. I tried to take the picture from my rolled down car window, but of course I wasn't close enough. so I put the car in park, jumped out and gave that cardinal my best photographer moves... and I still made it to work with four minutes to spare!

again, I'm linking up with emily. looking forward to seeing what others have to share.

Monday, December 5, 2011

december daily 2011.

...I'm a little embarrassed to admit this. (don't worry, it's nothing terrible - I'm only "a little" embarrassed :-) I've been slow about posting here because this is post 1001. and I had grand intentions of celebrating post #1000. I guess when I made that fifty for 50 list, I didn't consider the real impact of trying to post daily during november, or how much I post in december, sharing december daily, and holiday fun. so here's my first change to that list... instead of celebrating my 1000th post, I'm going to celebrate my blog's 5th anniversary. next february. when I'm sure things will be much quieter!

whew, it feels so good to get that off my chest! ...and now back to regular posting.

15:365 december daily begins.
2011 journal...ready to start
one of my favorite things about december is my december journal. started in 2007 with shimelle's fabulous journal your christmas (JYC), I've continued the tradition with a mix of shimelle's prompts and ali edwards' december daily (tell a story each day). 2008 was a hybrid album, 2009 & 2010 were full digital. and for 2011, I decided on another hybrid. just to have the fun of playing with scissors and glue and pretty paper. for reals!

five days into this format, I'm loving it! I downloaded ali's 6x8.5 printables and bought a 7x10 art journal from michaels. I dis-assembled the journal and ran the pages through my printer. one page per day - with room to add "extra stuff" when I get it. once the month is done, I'll reassemble the pages, do something fun with the covers, probably add ribbons to the spiral binding. who knows!

so today's JYC is about advent calendars and I have a new one this year. I've discovered empty nesting and advent calendars can result in 1) way too much chocolate and/or 2) a daily early morning reminder that you're getting old. so I'd planned something new for this year. I'd downloaded ali's advent boxes a few months ago, but it wasn't until last thursday that I hit on the idea of overlaying those boxes on favorite photos (heavily inspired by this photo).

dec 5 front
today's page - the tree, three of my favorite ornaments already hanging, and a photo of pulling it all together (it was actually much messier than this!)
I spent way too many happy hours on thursday going through my archive of photos and found 24 favorites. I gathered them into photoshop pages, spent a few more hours matching those advent boxes with the photos, and later, adhered the photos to patterned paper, cut them out, added eyelets and cord. the finished "calendar" is 24 of my favorite mostly holiday photos, ready to hang on a tree.

I love the finished result. beside the tree is a snowman dish full of ornaments waiting to be hung. he's full of happy memories waiting to be relived. ...and I loved the process of creating it. those hours spent sorting through the photos reminded me how beautiful our holidays are...and I'm grateful to have so many of those moments captured.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

sunday in the park.

...we walked two laps. holly chased and barked at squirrels while I noticed the grays and browns in the landscape (it took my mind off my very cold fingers).

and then she posed for a photo.
18:365 sunday in the park.

the perfect way to commemorate our one-year anniversary!

Friday, December 2, 2011

focus friday. november one little word.

...november's prompt was about self-reflection through a series of "i statements". ali provided the six statements and we had three extra spaces for pretty paper collages. when I first watched the video back on november 6, I thought "wow, good stuff"...but as the month progressed, I found it hard to nail down my thoughts. this word, and the process that ali has led us through, have had such an impact on me. how do I sum it all up on six little cards?

last weekend, with the 30th just a few days away (of course the focused me was going to finish the prompt by the end of the month!), I printed the cards on scrap paper, glued them into my journal, and started writing. I finished yesterday (yeah, a day late) and printed the cards for real. the paper collages were easy (for once!) and the words seemed right.

except for the i believe statement. the one I journaled read "the process ali presented has been a huge part of why this word. this year. has worked." but when I went to write it on the card, what came out was "I chose the right word. at the right time. and I'm so grateful. (amen!)" those words are right.

I watched the december video last night, and I'm looking forward to finishing up the project later this month. and yes, I've already signed up for the 2012 class. and chosen my word. more about that later. for now, it's still about focus!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

wip wednesday.

...christmas knitting has (finally??!!) begun in earnest.
wip wednesday
raveled here

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

tuesday unwrapped.

...I first read about tuesday unwrapped yesterday on emily's blog. and her simple suggestion to
share a moment that may have otherwise disappeared... Instead, stop. Notice. And be thankful.
spoke to me. and I thought about joining in, but it wasn't until this morning when I finally got back on my normal dark-early alarm schedule that I figured out my topic. so no, this isn't a post I triggered for today. it's what struck me as I was pouring my second cup of coffee and it was only 6:30 a.m.

I had 45 whole minutes to spend with my journal. I came to my journaling habit just five years ago (a few months before I started this blog - yes, you could say I'm trying to make up for much lost time by having an extremely well-documented second half of my life!) and it's one I love.

but this month, my journal suffered my push for daily blogging (an unsuccessful push at that since I missed  last friday - you probably didn't even notice did you? I didn't either, until saturday!) I was pushing the daily blogging to see if I could...and to see how it impacted my blogging. back to my focus battle from september, I wondered if posting more often would make my blog better. more on that later...

because what hit me full-on this morning was how much I missed the time with my journal. blank pages I can fill with whatever I want. free to cut and paste (with scissors and glue, not the cmd key on my keyboard). or write. or dream. or reflect. in a way I do not do here on my blog.

clearly this is another balance issue. I love having this blog. having a place to share and connect with others is important to me. but so is having a personal and private place to do my own thing.

so this morning, I stopped. noticed. and was thankful. for the time I had to write in my journal. for the time to work through yet another balance issue (and this evening, for the time to write about it here!)

looking forward to linking up with emily today and for the next few weeks.

Monday, November 28, 2011

currents.

self portrait. november.
listening - pandora's christmas station.

eating - thanksgiving leftovers; we didn't cook as much as we usually do, and sara took a shopping bag full back to school...but it still seems like we'll be eating this for another week.

drinking - pomegranate tea (from vanessa, for my birthday...love it!)

wearing - my uggs. first time this season. not sure how I feel about that!

reading - extremely loud and incredibly close...on my new kindle (woo hoo - thank you katie & sara!); the movie comes out christmas day and because I loved the book when I first read it, I felt I needed to re-read to be ready for the movie.

weather - the temperature dropped from the 60's to the low 40's today...and snow is forecast for tomorrow. yikes!

knitting - the collar on my vodka gimlet (aka "grey goose") - finally, the end is in sight. I started this sweater when it was summer and now it's going to snow!

wanting - to prep the pages for my december daily album (wow, this will be my 5th year of a daily journal!), but my scrapbook.com order hasn't arrived yet.

needing - to update my to-do list for everything I need to get done in the next three weeks.

enjoying - my house decorated for christmas. new this year is a little tree (seen in the background above) for my collection of bird ornaments.

looking forward - to both girls coming home on december 16th.

wondering - if my christmas knitting will really go better this year...I've planned, and I've tried to be realistic, but really, who knows??!!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

sunday in the park.

...holly treed a squirrel.

(actually, she treed about four, but it was no fun taking photos after than first one!)

Saturday, November 26, 2011

celebrating 50 years.

...together. their anniversary isn't til next month, but we celebrated yesterday. getting our three families and six grandchildren together isn't easy so we celebrate when we can (and technically we didn't manage six, since katie's spending the holiday in LA, but we did see her on facetime and I know my dad took a photo of her!)

the food was plentiful and delicious. two kinds of lasagna, caesar salad, garlic bread, tiramisu and gingerbread cake (no turkey or pumpkin pies in sight!)

 and there were decorations. little 50's and hearts spread on the tables and golden 50's streamers.

and smiles.
50 years together
my mom and dad
and a group shot.
anniversary party

and a photo book, which I apparently forgot to photograph... oh well.

...it was a lovely party, I'm so glad we were able to get together to celebrate. happy anniversary (a few weeks early)!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

real reason.

thanksgiving dinner
"There are things you do because they feel right & they may make no sense & they may make no money & it may be the real reason we are here: to love each other & to eat each other's cooking & say it was good."
~ storypeople

three kinds of cranberries, the macy's parade on dvr, 3 laps in the park, I'll make the turkey if you'll make the sides. making thanksgiving with you, sara, is the highlight of my holiday! xxoo - m.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

wednesday lunch.

lunch at village tavern
me, my dad, my mom and karen
...part 2 of the thanksgiving lunch-along tradition. and the 4th (yes, I typed that right - fourth!) lunch I've shared with my parents over the past week. today's tradition started as wednesday golf followed by the family "everything but turkey" buffet at the club about 15 years ago. marc is the only one still playing golf and we no longer belong to that club...but I've held tight to the tradition of spending this day before thanksgiving with my parents.

we still finish up my holiday grocery shopping at harry's (now whole foods). and a few years ago we added a visit to barnes & noble so he could shop for a birthday book.

I don't remember when we started having lunch at the village tavern - must have been a few years ago, because katie remembers those lunches. "aw, you're going to have crab dip?" yes indeed. their maryland crab dip is a highlight. and last year they started half price wine by the glass. this is definitely a tradition we're keeping!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

10 things for which I'm thankful.

...limiting this list to 10 things is hard. but this morning, these are the ones that are top of mind.
lunch at macaroni grill
me, my dad and my mom at macaroni grill...after lunch and before shopping (see #8)
1. a family who loves me. unconditionally.

2. my health. as I walked dark early with vanessa, and then again with holly, I am especially grateful I actually enjoy those daily walks.

3. I'm surrounded by friends, in person and on-line. we make each other laugh, and cry. we listen. we share. we play. we are there for each other.

4. sara's coming home tomorrow.

5. skype with katie. we have her first knitting lesson scheduled for tonight and I expect to share a champagne toast with her on thursday.

6. holly. she is the best four-legged company I could ask for. (and some days, she's the best company period :-)

7. we have plenty. our holiday challenge is one of "too much", not "too little".

8. holiday traditions. the photo above was taken at lunch yesterday. for about ten years, my parents have been coming to see us for thanksgiving (my sister, my brother and I all live within about 20 miles of each other; my parents stay with my sister and the rest of us take turns entertaining them). lunch and shopping is our monday tradition. (and our wednesday tradition.... that might be tomorrow's blog post!)

9. time to do the things I love. knit. study. take photographs. blog.

10. my knitting students. they are fun and inspiring and when a lightbulb goes off for them, it's just the best! I can't imagine anything else I'd rather get paid to do than teach them!

thank you, carole, for another wonderful prompt!

Monday, November 21, 2011

he gets it.

...this message was waiting for me when I got home from knitting yesterday (a few hours later than usual because the girls made a wonderful birthday party for me!)

so this is what he'll see when he comes home tonight.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

sunday in the park.

...it was quiet enough to hear the water tumbling over the rocks. and reflect on my thoughts. as we walked two laps in the damp morning mist.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

I love you because.

...so, today is my anniversary. 28 years if you're counting (and of course, I'm counting!) marc is still impossible to shop for. and I spent all my creative energy on last year's photo. truly, I had nothing new to offer.

until kal published her love you because kit. thank you, kal!

this is perfect. I downloaded everything, resized the dry-erase pdf file to 8x10 (I had to crop it a bit, but it turned out fine), printed it (at costco), put it into a frame (from target), added a message...and whew! done!

I wasn't sure what my first message was going to be until late yesterday - when marc texted that he had landed in las vegas and would be home very early this morning. nearly 24 hours ahead of schedule.
this is the actual framed print, sitting on the kitchen counter. I used an 11x14 frame with an 8x10 mat. decided the whitespace around the print would be good for writing, too!

I'm including four dry-erase pens with the gift. planning to have the framed print sit on our kitchen counter so we remember to leave each other messages like this one. reminding each other about all the things we love...big, little, everyday things...that make a marriage...and make a marriage last.

... and just for fun, another photo from the archives. this one from our wedding. november 19, 1983 seems like a very long time ago!

love you, marc. only you.

Friday, November 18, 2011

the birthday.

...first, many thanks to everyone for the sweet birthday wishes and support for my fifty for 50. I'm excited about it and I think it should be great fun to share all about it here.

so yesterday was my 49th birthday. and the first one ever that I spent without a family at home to steer my direction for the day. I thought it was going to be weird or sad, but it was actually pretty great. yep, I'm 49 years old and I'm finally learning how to live on my own (not that I do, or want to permanently, but every now and then - as long as I have holly! - I love it!)

I started the day with a walk with vanessa (and holly) in the park. two laps. we hadn't done that since august and it was delightful to feel the crisp air, see the season and catch up.

my parents are visiting for thanksgiving and they took me (and holly) to lunch at nine in roswell. we had a great meal on the porch (highly recommend the grilled pimento cheese!) and then a photo. I've written about how special it is to spend birthdays with my mom and dad. we think the last time we shared my birthday was when I turned 21. two days before my wedding. wow!
birthday lunch at nine
polly, mary & holly, roy
lunch was wonderful and then it was off to martha's for cupcakes and coffee.
gingerbread cupcakes

next a quick stop at the shop for some knitting (finally!) and more coffee. and finally home. I got holly settled (one quick walk, she inhaled her dinner and then zonked on her bed - whew! birthdays are hard work!) and started my birthday for one. gifts, cards, chocolate cake, red wine and a candle. that's all it takes!
1/365 make a wish.

... then I talked to sara. and made a wish and cut the cake. and had an extra bite (that's what having my own cake is all about, right?)
birthday cake for one

... then I skyped with katie. (and ate the cake and drank the wine). enjoyed all the cards and the emails and the facebook and text messages. and went to bed.

tired. happy. loved. blessed. grateful.

thank you all so much!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

fifty for 50.

...today marks the beginning of my 50th year. (not to confuse, and not to embarrass my parents who are celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary next month :-), my 50th birthday isn't til 2012 - this is my 50th year. and being one who loves to-do lists, I decided to make a big one for this year.

things to accomplish once and done.
1. grow my hair to wear a pony tail.
2. knit through my WIP's.
3. read mansfield park (and then I've read all of jane austen's novels).
4. make pesto with my own homegrown basil.
5. knit ten projects from my stash.
6. finish the superhero photo treasure hunts.
7. clean out the guest room.
8. finish the poppies needlepoint canvas (that I started months ago).
9. sort through the books on my bookshelves and donate the ones I no longer need.
10. organize all the pre-2003 photos.

things to set me on a good course for the next fifty years.
1. take a photo a day.
2. have a physical.
3. and a mammogram.
4. and an eye exam.
5. schedule a colonoscopy.
6. start a strength training routine.
7. keep walking 15 miles a week.
8. and 12 new (to me) healthy recipes.
9. get a manicure (and keep it up).
10. participate in one little word for 2012.

things to do because they're good.
1. celebrate my parents' 50th wedding anniversary.
2. and my dad's 75th birthday.
3. and sara's 21's birthday.
4. (with karen) raise another $2,500 for the atlanta 2-day walk (and walk for the 6th time).
5. knit 12 hats for charity.
6. revitalize the church's prayer shawl group.
7. practice 50 random acts of kindness.
8. investigate volunteering at a senior center with holly.

or because I'll learn something.
1. teach katie to knit.
2. bake bread with sara.
3. make a photobook.
4. knit fair isle with two hands.
5. read power of a praying woman.
6. read mere christianity.
7. figure out "what's twitter?"
8. identify 12 trees at the park.
9. learn three new needlepoint stitches.
10. master oatmeal cookies.
11. take a monthly self portrait photo.
11. take a class.
13. try yoga.

or because they're fun.
1. re-read all seven harry potter books.
2. bake 12 new (to me) quick breads.
3. host a card-making party.
4. complete four more needlepoint projects.
5. celebrate my 1,000th blog post.

or just because I want to.
1. get four regular students in my saturday afternoon lace class.
2. take a trip to visit a friend.

then 49. document my progress and 50. plan a celebration for next year's birthday!

thank you in advance to everyone who will play a part in helping me accomplish all of this, including everyone who cheers from the sidelines!!

here's to a wonderful year!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

10 ways to use fresh cranberries.

...I'm a huge fan of cranberries, especially fresh ones and especially for cooking, so carole's topic for today will be fun!
my favorite two ways to use fresh cranberries - cranberry relish and cranberry conserve (recipes blogged here)
1 & 2. cranberry relish and cranberry conserve (pictured) are stars at our thanksgiving table.

3. warmed cranberry brie (leftover conserve used in place of whole berry sauce) is my standard hors d'oeuvre for the holidays.

4. cranberry oatmeal bread. I made this for bible study last week and it was delicious, especially served with pumpkin cream cheese (I used this recipe, but substituted leftover roasted butternut squash for the pumpkin - highly recommend!)....and an added bonus - there's a second loaf in my freezer!

5. ina's cranberry harvest muffins. it's worth getting the figs, but I substitute pecans or walnuts for the hazlenuts.

6. sugared cranberries. a special treat for the season. as pretty to look at as to eat!

7. in crystal dishes to decorate the mantel.

8. with white votives in a shallow bowl for a pretty centerpiece.

9. strung (with white popcorn?!) and hung on the tree.

10. eaten plain. they're really tart, so I can only eat a couple at a time (and yes, I know this is weird - marc and sara both gave me a hard time about snacking straight from the bowl), but they're crunchy and deliver that wonderful cranberry taste without anything extra.