Sunday, December 31, 2017

Week In Review - December 24 - 30

This is my reality this week! 

Along with the sore muscles, stuck car and just being plain tired of all the white!

Part of my dissatisfaction with the snow is the fact I have to park on the street. Our 'driveway' is about 2 feet long and CJ's car is the only vehicle which can fit in the tiny garage.

So, yep, when it's up to the door....well, f*** it!

Unfortunately, on Saturday we (1) needed out of the house and (2) needed milk and toilet paper.

So Texter and I shoveled and dug and tried to figure out where to put the snow we were digging and shoveling. Then CJ had to be dragged out to help us get 'unstuck'. Along with three sets of strangers who stopped when they saw we were having issues...twice. 

Part of the problem was my tires. I had replacing tires on my 'to-do' list for March, prior to our 2300 mile drive. Unfortunately, between burning a lot of rubber trying to get unstuck and their condition anyway, that timeframe moved up a couple of months.

But new tires do make a difference. However, there will be a bit of shoveling and clearing today as there were another 2-3 inches overnight. Sigh...

Don't get me wrong, the snow is beautiful. And if could last a day or two and then go away I would be well pleased. But it doesn't. It will be here for quite some time.

However, I have been making new friends...

When we ventured out on Saturday, I restocked my bird seed. With the heavy snow over the past couple of days, I have a host of feathered friends I feel responsible for. To the point I have laid out a big piece of cardboard to scatter seeds on for all the sparrows and doves which prefer ground eating. 

And the '-' in front of the temperature? That's not indicating it's 'below zero'. It's indicating an upraised middle finger as far as I am concerned.

Other than the snow, we stopped on Wednesday night to try out Pizza Ranch and their arcade. They have fried chicken and pizza! And an arcade! And for someone who is sssooooo wanting to visit Chucky Cheese, we thought it might please.

Lady K has some sensitivity issues, so restaurants which are busy and noisy pose some issues of overwhelming her.  But their set-up worked and she had a ball, winning enough tickets to get a crown and some slime.

Another bonus is the food is actually good. The price is very reasonable and the staff is very attentive and pleasant. We will be visiting a lot more over the next few months, especially since it is only a few blocks away from us.

But despite the white outside, there is a bit of color inside. And I have several more orchids getting ready to flower. I will be doing a couple of updates in the coming days about what is ready to bloom and what they look like in bloom. One good thing about orchids is, once they bloom, they stay for several weeks.

Otherwise this week...

  • Celebrated Christmas with some great gifts and snacking all day
  • Quiet birthday for Savvy with a spaghetti dinner and an Italian Cheese Cream Cake 
  • Decided on my 'Word of the Year"
  • Finished 5 books
  • Wrote 7 posts
  • Almost finished up my Corner 2 Corner afghan
  • Bit of sewing on the On Ringo Lake Mystery Quilt
  • Shoveled a ton of snow

For the coming week...

  • Move into my 2018 Hobonichi planner(s)
  • Lots of planning for 2018 and scheduling in my planner (more on all of that)
  • Trip to the movies (hopefully) 
  • "Winter Carnival" at The Sewing Palace to showcase their coming classes
  • Buying books for Texter's last semester
  • Sewing and crocheting
  • And lots of reviewing the past year and planning the coming year

But for now, another cup of coffee and putting the cinnamon rolls in the oven for breakfast.

Friday, December 29, 2017

Word of the Year for 2018

Actually I am going to cheat a bit. My word of the year is actually two words.

At first I was just going to go with 'FOCUS'. That's what has been on my mind for several months now. I need to 'focus' on what is in front of me and not get sidetracked by shiny objects.

Case in point.

I have a TON of fiber/fabric projects, all in various stages of completion. I run into the quilting store to get some more fabric for a current project and come home with fabric for yet another project and want to work on that instead. 

Not a good thing.

Then I read an article about positive living and thinking (don't ask me when or where, but I did). 

The idea of focusing on the positive around me hit a chord. Believe me, in this day and age it is so easy to get caught up in the negative and let it overwhelm you.

Now anyone who knows me I have a thread of sarcasm in me. Okay, it's a huge rope of sarcasm. No one will every accuse me of being a Pollyanna and constantly viewing life through rose colored glasses. But I know from years of experience, looking at the positive or looking for the positive, is much healthier, mentally and physically, then dwelling on how bad everything is.

And it's the little things which can make the difference. Take these bulbs for example.

I love hyacinths, especially when I force them indoors in the winter. They add color and scent to any room. 

However, I am currently maxed out on plant room. And Lady K was interested in watching their development from bulb to roots to sprouting. So I gave them to the daycare. The kids have been watching their progress and how they go from one day being nothing, to the next day the flowers peeking through. Lady K loves it because the way I taught her to remember the name of them is to wave and go "Hi-acinth".

Yes, I don't have them in the house where I can see them all the time. But I see them when I take her to school. And they bring the kids and teachers joy. So that's 'focusing on the positive'.

Another thing my 'word of the year' will hopefully make me do, is to take that extra couple of seconds (and normally that's all it takes) and just 'be nice'. How much of an effort is it to tell the checkout clerk "have a good day"? Or stop and stand by the door at the daycare to open it in the freezing, early morning hour, to let a dad, with twin boys, one in each arm, into the building. Yes, I had to wait a bit because he was just getting out of his car. Wow, all of 2 or 3 seconds! He didn't have to put one of them down to open the door and it made his day a bit easier. 

Now I'm not trying to pat myself on the back and tell you what a 'nice person' I am. Believe me, you want to see Medusa in action, follow me around. My head can spin and my eyes cross, prior to ripping your head off in a heartbeat. I get a lot of "now, Momma" from the girls. 

So the coming year will be taking a step back. Focusing on what needs to be done. Putting new ideas and plans on paper and setting it aside until current projects are completed. 

And most of all, being positive. Focus on the positive in the world. Even if you have to 'battle' evil, you can still surround yourself with positive - people, ideas, actions. 

I will be a force for change - one tiny, positive action at a time.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

It's Her Birthday!

Yes, another year has past! 

And Savvy is discovering a couple of grey hairs.

And who can blame her? It's been a trying year and she has kept her spirits up.

From helping a new friend have a great wedding day...

Hanging out at home on her days off...

To being my 'study buddy' in class...

It's been an exciting year. And 2018 will only be more exciting - moving back to North Carolina and all her friends she misses so much there.

It is fun to see what a wonderful woman she has grown into.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Christmas Wrap-Up

All the presents have been unwrapped and I am trying to figure out what to do with all the leftover boxes and spent paper. 

Some of the boxes will be saved for packing and some of the paper will be used in my journal, but for the most part, it's all said and done.

It was a super simple Christmas, mainly because we didn't have room and we wanted simple as we are already in the 'move' mode.

Christmas Day was fun. Lady K now has about a million Shopkins. And if you aren't familiar with them, they are tiny plastic figures and she loves playing with them. I love listening to the stories she comes up with while playing with them.

They have been to Africa, to the hospital, to school - wherever her imagination takes them.

We were all together, all healthy, and enjoyed the day.

Texter and I went in together and bought ourselves a Sprocket. We can now print out 2 x 3 pictures from our phones. I wanted one to use in my planner and journaling. It's so much fun.

Then Savvy and CJ got me a "Mother Tree" necklace. The stones are for Savvy, Texter and Lady K. Loving it. It has a double meaning for me in that I am drawn to "Trees of Life" or "Tree of Knowledge" and have wanted a mother's ring or something. The necklace is one and probably won't come off (well, it will when I get a slightly longer chain).

Breakfast was biscuits and 'imported' country ham. The rest of the day we snacked as we wanted. It was so much easier than coming up with a lunch or dinner, especially since we don't have anywhere to sit down at a table really.

But Christmas is over and the New Year is looming on the horizon. 

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Feed The Birds

I love feeding the birds (and squirrels), especially in the winter. With a hedge which runs around the house and a huge spruce tree in the yard, we get plenty of feathered visitors.

We run the sparrows and chickadees, to Asian Collared Doves (they aren't Mourning doves), woodpecker (we have suet too), crows, seagulls, Northern Flicker and a hawk or two.

With the snow on the ground, the scene reminds me of my favorite "Mary Poppins" song, "Feed the Birds".

It's not the happiest song in the movie, but it has always been my favorite.

Now to go scatter more feed on the ground. The sparrows prefer it that way and I can feed more that way than letting them take turns at the feeder with the squirrel.

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Week In Review - December 17 - 23

This is how the majority of the week has gone - cold and snowy. Cold as in there is a '-' in front of the temperature at times. Nope, not loving it.

Granted it is pretty. Very much so, but after a certain amount of time it is just cold and bothersome. 

But on a brief outing this past week with Texter (I needed fabric), this was the scene...

And Downtown Helena looks lovely despite the snow.

In the meantime, I am staying inside and doing some 'pre-planning'.

Otherwise this week...

  • Christmas program at 'school' for Lady K
  • Cut out the fabric for week 5 of the On Ringo Lake Mystery Quilt
  • Finished 2 books. Only 3 books away from my goal of 175 for the year!
  • Planned Christmas Day foods - snacking all day rather than a big meal
  • With the fabric I bought, I now have a new quilt idea sketched out
  • Savvy and CJ are awaiting final signoff on a new house in NC. Now for Texter and I to find one. 

For the coming week...
  • Christmas Day! 
  • Finish 3 books!
  • Lots of planning for the new year
  • Finish up some sewing projects
  • Couple of letters out to friends

And more snow on Christmas Day!

But for now, off to start breakfast and more coffee. 

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Turning the Corner

Today is the Winter Solstice. A time when the darkness gives way to light.

It's been a long year, full of rebuilding and regrouping. I like to think we, as a family and as individuals, have come out the better for it and are stronger than ever.

Some of the things I have learned from this experience...

  • There is a WHOLE LOT OF GOOD out there. Despite all the headlines of doom and gloom, strife and conflict, there is a lot of good in people out there. 
  • We are a strong family, pulling together and coming out the other side better than ever.
  • "Things" aren't as important as you think they are. You quickly learn what brings you joy and what are just 'stuff'.
  • Don't take things and people for granted. They can be gone in an instance.
  • I have more empathy now for people in crisis than I did in the past. Sometimes it takes a bit of 'waking up' to make you look past yourself.

We have learned to rely more on each other and to laugh more. Even in a lot of snow! 

(Of course, it does help to know this time next year we will be back in North Carolina and snow for months won't be an issue.)

Texter is one semester away from finishing her schooling and will be beginning her work life. Savvy and CJ have been approved for a house and will be leaving in about 3 months. We will follow in mid-May and hopefully, we too will have a house waiting for us. (One we own, not renting.)

The next few months will be filled, for me, with sorting, packing and dealing with the details of the move. It will also be filled with finishing up fiber and fabric projects.

Today is dawning bright and clear, just like our future.

Monday, December 18, 2017

Mandala Monday

This is one of my two amaryllises I have growing. It's less than a foot tall, which is odd, and has two blooms on it with another flower spike almost ready to open. The other one, planted at the same time, only has a couple of leaves coming up and one flower spike just starting to show. 

Normally, they grow about 2 feet tall and then open their flowers. 

Well, it's been an odd year!

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Week In Review - December 10 - 16

Hectic weeks, well at least to me they have been hectic. Finals for Texter are over for the semester and she is realizing she only has one semester left. 

We have realized we are only 5 months away from moving and will have to find a place to rent in Charlotte and a job for Texter. Packing, purging, and all of 'that stuff'. On one hand we are all excited. On the other, sad we are leaving.

However, lots going on in the meantime.

We checked out a couple of reindeer yesterday. I have to say I thought reindeer where larger. Maybe I'm confusing them with caribou. We also drove out after dark to view the Vukonich Family Lights.
It's about 30 minutes of lights and music and really, really fun. Lady K enjoyed it as we parked in front of the house and watched the lights.

And a pre-Christmas treat which we are stretching out...

Country Ham!

I couldn't stand it any longer and ordered a gift box from Goodnight Brothers in North Carolina.  Needless to say, there was a lot of moaning and groaning in pleasure as we have chowed down on one and a half of the four packages of ham. One will be used on Christmas morning for breakfast!

Since we are now under 5 months until our departure from Montana (and based on the state of my desk area), I decided Saturday morning, instead of sewing, I would clean up my desk area and file boxes.

This is what it looked like as I started...

Piles to keep...

Down to one file box, instead of two and a half (not finished putting files back in box yet in that picture).

And the state of my desk as all of this was going on!

I found a stash of NaNoWriMo postcards, bookmarks, and stickers which I sent out to members of a Facebook group I belong to. There is a stack of construction paper and drawing paper going to daycare for their art projects.

I still have some more sorting and purging to go, but it has been pared down quite a bit already. Next will be the closet in my bedroom. It's not big, but things have just been stored in there over the past year and it needs some cleaning out.

Lady K has an 'advent calendar of gifts' she has been opening. They are all a pair of socks and some Shopkins. In case you don't know, Shopkins are tiny figures coming in everything from vegetables to pets to everyday objects.

Lady K loves them! And plays for hours with them, sorting and talking to them and making up stories with them. However, when she saw the sewing machine she gave them to me because 'Grandma, you like to sew'. They are now taking up a place of honor with Buddha on top of the fish tank.

Otherwise this week...

  • Attended the Helena Symphony 'Christmas in the Cathedral' to hear Handel's Messiah...magnificent!
  • Another craft day at daycare - popsicle stick Christmas trees with plenty of glitter glue and stick on jewels
  • Cut out Clue 4 on the On Ringo Lake Mystery Quilt
  • Finished 4 books
  • Started working on my 2018 'planning and goal setting'

The coming week...

  • Pick up ornaments from Free Ceramics (we forget to get them Saturday)
  • Finish up desk area
  • Sew on Mystery Quilt clues for Weeks 3 and 4 and trim 2 - 4 blocks
  • Attend the Christmas Program at daycare
  • Last craft day at daycare
  • Work on 2018 plans and goals
  • Finish up Corner-2-Corner afghan while binge watching TV

And staying warm! 

Temperatures are set to drop here in the coming week into the single digits as a high.

But for now, off for more coffee.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Week in Reivew - December 3 - 9

Ok....take two!

I had this about halfway written, when someone (cough, cough) sat a cup on my keyboard and erased my post! Will teach me to save as I write and not to let Lady K get near my computer!


Yesterday was a busy day. 

First, we had the annual Breakfast with Santa in Downtown Helena sponsored by Bert & Ernies. Each year they have two seatings for a free breakfast of scrambled eggs, pancakes and bacon for families and a chance to take pictures with Santa.

While their decor is eclectic everyday, the additional Christmas lights make it really festive.

Lady K chowed down on bacon, but didn't wish to have her picture made with Santa. Too many people for her liking.

We then had about an hour to spend before we went up the street to make decorations, so we strolled over to the next block for some hot chocolate at General Mercantile.  I have to say they have the best hot chocolate going.

Besides the two huge koi swimming around, there are tons of little stocking stuffers for every taste. 

Then we moved up the hill a couple of blocks to Free Ceramics for the Christmas Ornament event. Texter and I wanted to go because we saw their posting on Facebook and they had a Montana and a USA ornament in the picture. We wanted to make these as mementos of our time here in Montana.

Ok, so my 'writing' on one isn't the best, but Lady K and I had fun. I can't wait until next week when we get them back.

I love what Free Ceramics has done with their space. I have watched it change over the past couple of years. My quilting friend, Ms. Montana, has her studio downstairs in their building. It's only getting better and better.

Otherwise, this week, I was fortunate enough to win a gift certificate from Downtown Helena and selected one from Herb and Garden. And selected a couple of 'new-to-me' orchids which are in bloom!

I set them in the window with my amaryllis. The weird growing amaryllis. The ones, which even though they were planted at the same time are growing at vastly different rates. In fact, the one of the left I didn't think was going to grow at all. 

The one on the right is actually growing a second flower spike and and more leaves. So it should be really up and pretty by Christmas. Lefty will be my New Year bloom!

Otherwise this week...

  • 5 books finished
  • Craft day at the 'school'
  • Clue 3 pieces cut out for the Mystery Quilt
  • Couple of book reviews written

The coming week...

  •  Monday night, Christmas at the Cathedral for Handel's Messiah!
  • Another craft day
  • Awaiting my order of country ham!
  • Finish up Clue 3 and start Clue 4 for the Mystery Quilt 
  • Movie night with hiking buddies

But for to make cookies and coffee cake!

Thursday, December 07, 2017

Closet Essentials - Amber McNaught

I won this book on Goodreads and when I first received it thought it was 'too young' for me. I figured I would pass it along to the girls.

However, once I started looking through it, I had to give it a second look.

Closet Essentials by Amber McNaught is a good read for all ages.

With a two-page layout for most of the basic clothing styles you can find, from ballet flats, denim jackets, A-line skirts, she leads you to some very interesting combinations I would not think of. And they look good.

Believe me, no one who knows me would ever accuse me of being concerned with what I wear, both inside and outside the house. And in a day when the trend is toward minimalism and capsule wardrobes, there is a ton of no-nonsense tips on how to combine the most basic of wardrobes into something a step above. 

Now I'm going to have to relook at my closet with a different attitude and see what new combinations I can make out of what I have.

Note: I received this book as part of the Goodreads giveaway for my honest review. 

Wednesday, December 06, 2017

Artemis - by Andy Weir

While I did check the book, The Martian, out, I never got around to reading it. And I loved the movie.  So when Andy Weir's latest book, Artemis, came out, I checked it out from the library. And this time I actually read the book!

Set in the lunar colony, Artemis, it's the story of a small-time smuggler, Jasmine Bashara, or Jazz as she is known. Being a small 'town' everyone knows everyone else and she's just a good girl who happens to smuggle on the side. Until...

Now, this would be a GREAT movie! 

Action. Lots of it. Crooks and murder and all kinds of diverse characters. And lots of technology and politics. And Jazz trying to stay alive through it all, causing a lot of the mayhem herself, but still wanting to do the right thing.

Whew...the last few chapters, once things get going, take your breath away.

Couple of things I really like about the book. First, Jazz is female. And not only is she a smart, savvy female, but she is also Saudi Arabian. And while she is at odds with her father, it's done in a very believable way.

Second, the mechanics of Artemis and living on the moon. She has no desire to return to Earth. She's lived on the moon since she was six. She wants money so she can have a bigger place to live, but no desire to leave the moon. Weir does a great job of describing how Artemis works, both mechanically and socially.

Third, she is very likable. Or at least I liked her. She walks the fringes, but she has rules and morals. 

While I am like Weir, who recently said in an interview he had no desire to go into space himself, it does make me wish there was really an Artemis on the moon. But I wouldn't eat Gunk.

Sunday, December 03, 2017

Week In Review - November 26 - December 2

Christmas shopping is finished (I think). Just awaiting the packages to arrive in the mail, or UPS, whichever.

We have a tiny, tiny tree. Like 1 foot tall. But that is all which we have room for. Lady K has an advent calendar countdown of tiny presents. Boy, does she know the numbers 1 to 24 now!

A beautiful sunrise sent us on our way on Friday for a shopping trip to Missoula.

One of the downfalls of Helena (or some people might think it's positive) is there isn't any 'shopping' to be done here. No mall. No bookstore where you can go and sit in the cafe and peruse magazines and books. No Best Buy for electronics. No Krispy Kreme!

And does Lady K love her road trips to Missoula! 

Saturday had us at PetSmart for looking at 'critters' and making a turtle Christmas ornament. Lady K was a little disappointed they didn't have a lizard for her to hold, but she survived. Texter and I were disappointed we couldn't take the 'free kitties' home with us.

Thursday afternoon saw Texter and me at 'school', leading the class in making paper chains for holiday decorating. We have 3 more afternoons between now and Christmas we are going in and doing crafts with the kids. It was so much fun and the kids were 'thank you for coming' and 'this is fun', even though we know they do crafts every day. We have bags for them to carry their 'ornaments' home with them on the last day we do crafts.

Friday was clue 2 in the On Ringo Lake Mystery Quilt. 

I have them cut out and ready to start sewing 200 flying geese blocks! Normally I hate making flying geese blocks, but with my Bloc Loc rulers and how to make 4 at a time, they are so easy now.

It will be interesting to see how they pair up with last week's blocks.

I also started a year-long knitting project. 

The girl who taught my drop spindle class this summer is also a pattern designer and asked for testers to make a 'Big Sky Weather' scarf.

Much like the premise of a temperature quilt or afghan, we are knitting according to the sky that day.

I am doing two rounds per day. The purple is a 'set up' ribbing and it's being knitted in the round, which should be an interesting scarf.  So the scarf above was started on the 1st, which started out sunny (yellow) and then turned partly cloudy (pale blue). Then on the 2nd, it was cloudy and a darker blue was used. Today is snowing so I will be doing a white for today for 2 rows. It's going to be interesting when I move to North Carolina soon and see what it does. However, a temperature quilt is still on my to-do list!

Otherwise this week...

  • Successfully completed NaNoWriMo (as in I did get 50,000 words in)
  • Had a planning time at Starbucks for the coming month
  • Started the decrease of my Corner-2-Corner afghan (which is almost 6 feet square when finished!)
  • Letter off to friend 
  • Finished 4 books

This coming week...

  • Saturday is "Breakfast with Santa"
  • Finishing up last week's Mystery Quilt clue and starting on this week's
  • Another craft day
  • Lots of reading and crocheting
  • Waiting on packages to arrive!

But for now, more coffee!

Saturday, December 02, 2017

Out With November, In With December

Beautiful full moon shining in the sky which will be replaced by snow on Sunday. Not looking forward to the 's' word, but a big pot of chili was made yesterday, so I am good to go.

Friday, the 1st, also saw Texter, Lady K and I on the road to Missoula to do a bit of Christmas shopping. 

No snow or ice on the road and the weather, while cloudy, wasn't bad. Christmas shopping should be done (I think).

But a recap of my November goals...

  • Complete NaNoWriMo before Thanksgiving - made it by the skin of my teeth
  • Start the Bonnie Hunter Mystery quilt - week 1 done and today will start on week 2, staying caught up (so far)
  • Get the additional fabrics needed to do the Bonnie Hunter Mystery Quilt - bought some neutrals and hopefully can squeak out what I have
  • Finish up the afghan I have started - a little over halfway through
  • Catch up on the Spirit of Life CAL - nope
  • Do some Christmas sewing - not really 
  • TONS of reading - did it and still have a ton to get through
  • Make mini-cupcakes for the Jensen Jeweler's Diamond Event - yep 
  • Another Gulch Distillers class yes!

So while I feel like I really didn't 'do' much in November, I did get the majority of my goals accomplished.

So for December, in between awaiting delivery of packages...

  • Stay on top of the Bonnie Hunter Mystery Quilt (200 flying geese blocks for week 2 might do me in!)
  • Start and stay on top of the Big Sky Scarf I am test knitting
  • Breakfast with Santa
  • Three craft events at 'school' for Lady K and her classmates
  • Go through my 3 bins of files and consolidate, reorganize, purge
  • Re-do my 'list' of projects and update the order needing to be completed in 2018
  • Finish up my Corner-2-Corner afghan
  • Finish up 1 other yarn project
  • Read 21 books to achieve my reading goal for 2017!