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I have received word that most of the presents I sent out the other week have been received, and for those who haven’t gotten to them because of that pesky country-wide snow storm – well conveniently they don’t read this – or at least I don’t think they do.

So here we go – a look into what I spent 3 weeks working on.  (And yep, I got all this done in three weeks)

Hand – Cross Stitched “Noel” Decorative Pillows with Felt Backs for the Grandmother-in-Laws

Wool Felt Bird Ornaments – My Own Design –

One set for my Cousin and her New Husband and One set for my Aunt and Uncle

Ben said the grey birds looked evil because of the red french-knot eyes.

I said I didn’t ask for his opinion.

😉

Lots and Lots of Knitting –

I owe you a clearer picture of these later and that last hole is stitched up – but these are the hubbies WWII Era Pattern “Trigger Gloves”.

Made with this Amazing Purl Bee Pattern “Simple Pleasures Hat” for the Best Friends New Hubby.

The Montse Beret for the Best Friend to Keep Her Warm Up By the Lake

The Meret Beret for my Mother in Law

And Another “Simple Pleasures Hat” for my Father in Law

Admittedly one of the best things about all this handmade stuff?  I’m sorry to admit it, but it barely cost me a dime.  Most of the yarn, thread, wool felt, even the cross-stitch fabric I had just waiting to be used on my craft shelves.  The patterns were all free, or previously acquired as well.  So all I needed was the time, which I apparently had in spades thanks to my current time off from work.

I really hope I get to do this again next year.  The plan is that I will switch off who gets something handmade each year, because lets face it unless you’re under the age of 10 you don’t need a new knit hat every year and even handmade “stuff” is still “stuff”.  I also have dreams of bigger, better and nicely things to make – sweaters and blankets are on the agenda since I’ve yet to use this – that I picked up at the Goodwill for $6.

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Christmas was warm and wonderful, even if it was just the two of us this year.  We spent the day curled up on the couch watching movies and eating Reese’s Peanut Butter Trees and playing Blokus Duo.  We are also now in possession of enough board games that we need to make more friends in order to ever get to play them.  And I received a sustain pedal for my keyboard which finally allowed me to play not only some of my favorite sheet music, but all of my favorite Christmas Carols!  If I can’t have weighted keys I, at least, now have the ability to sustain!

Christmas Eve was also wonderful filled with lasagna and walks downtown to see the lights and a lovely midnight service.  Our church doesn’t decorate until Christmas Eve so it was such a treat to see it all decorated!

I hope you had a wonderful Christmas too!

Tonight is the night for a good dinner,  some hot chocolate and sugary treats while we curl up and starting reading this.  I get to narrate and Ben does a wicked Scrooge.

Also, sorry Mom, there was a late entry to the Christmas Cat Competition last night, Hex was in the box before everything was unpacked… I’m afraid Jane won the box wars.

I’ve finally found it, my perfect, basic chili starter and I wanted to share it with you.  I’m sure you could add a lot of great stuff, but I love it just as is.

Molly’s Chili –

1 29oz. can of tomato sauce

1 29oz can of diced tomatoes – drained

1 28oz can of Bush’s Original Baked Beans (w/bacon and brown sugar)

2 16oz cans of Dark Red Kidney Beans – drained

1 lb ground beef

1/4 cup of chili powder

1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper

1 1/2 tsp cumin

Salt and pepper to taste

Note:  We like our chili with a nice bite to it, if you’re not a fan of spicy chili then I’d suggest starting with 1/8 tsp of cayenne or leaving it out to beginning with

Step 1. Brown ground beef and drain.

Step 2. Mix tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, bush’s baked beans, kidney beans into a Crock Pot.  Add seasonings.   Stir well.   Add ground beef.  Turn to High, cover and let cook for at least an hour.  Enjoy!

‘Twas about a week before Christmas

and all through the house

not a creature was stirring not even a mouse.

The presents sat wrapped all nice on their chair,

colored coded and pretty,

but “Criminey”, I thought, “How I am to get them all there?”

“Over to Iowa, Chicago, to Ames,and Deep River

to Luther, to Kelley…”

The list seemed forever!

I felt I should cry or pray down on my knees,

begging just this once for a little Christmas mercy!  Please?

Instead I decided to sit down to eat my perogies and biscuits

And knew that the dread post office

I’d soon have to visit.

The Christmas decorations are finally up!  We spent yesterday decorating the house feels wonderful!

Carolers in Snow

Stockings hung with care and yes those are a collection of plastic dinosaurs.

A little Christmas message.

This years Christmas Craft.

This years Christmas Tree, which wouldn’t be complete without …

The Christmas Cat taking up permanent residence under the tree.

P.S. Extra points if you can find the Transformer Ornaments in the Tree…

It’s like finding in the Glass Pickle…

except with Decepticons.

Question:  What’s your strangest Christmas Ornament or Holiday Decoration?

*Bake 2 pumpkin pies *Bake raspberry jam nut roll
*Pepperoni Rolls
*Clean bathroom
*Clean bedroom

*Clean livingroom/dinning room

*Clean kitchen

*Double check supplies for Thursday
*One last Grocery store run, probably at around 10 p.m.

*Church service
*Make Chocolate Brownie Cheesecake
*Breakfast – cinnamon rolls probably
*Cheesebread snacks + reheat Pepperoni Rolls
*That Turkey thing *The rest of Thanksgiving dinner *Setting and Decorating the Table *Calling all the relatives
*Nap
*Lots of movie watching and knitting
*Bake Peach coffee cake


… accomplished.



Okay so in true “Homemaker-Pod-Person” form I’m probably attempting to do way too much in the next 36-48 hours. But hey! I just successfully made from scratch Thin-mint cookies from the Martha Stewart magazine… this means I can do anything!

Here’s a small list of what should happen-

Wednesday –
*Bake 2 pumpkin pies
*Bake raspberry jam nut roll
*Pepperoni Rolls
*Clean bathroom
*Clean bedroom
*Clean livingroom/dinning room
*Clean kitchen
*Double check supplies for Thursday
*One last Grocery store run, probably at around 10 p.m.
*Church service
*Make Chocolate Brownie Cheesecake

Thursday –
*Breakfast – cinnamon rolls probably
*Cheesebread snacks + reheat Pepperoni Rolls
*That Turkey thing
*The rest of Thanksgiving dinner
*Setting and Decorating the Table
*Calling all the relatives
*Nap
*Lots of movie watching and knitting
*Bake Peach coffee cake

…Phew that’s alot of stuff. I will admit that I’m adding alot this year because I promised to bake lots of goodies for Ben’s staff at work so that they’d have something to snack on while they’re at work all day on Black Friday. The peach coffee cake, thin-mint cookies and raspberry jam roll is all for them.

Yes, I’m crazy, but yes I am bound and determined to make this Thanksgiving quite amazing and because of this I’m sure Friday I’ll have some hilarious stories about how it all failed magnificently.

This year, as a result of many things, I’m going to attempt to restructure my holiday celebrations a little. Usually the Christmas tree goes up a week or so after Thanksgiving, the house gets decorated, Christmas comes and then goes and it’s all over. This year I want to try something different; a new structure to our holidays.

I’ve been thinking about this a lot recently and after a conversation last night with a man who goes to my church I’m committed. He told me all about how Trinity celebrates the holidays. They do so in what they call a “counter-cultural approach” which is to say, Christmas doesn’t get celebrated until Christmas is here. They give the Advent season it’s full sway, the decorations don’t come out until Christmas among other things. This approach has gotten my interest recently, so after hearing the ways I’d be celebrating at church I thought it’d be the perfect time to implement it in my own home.

This comes from two sources, one a desire to feel a better connection to the sacred nature of the holidays (something I admit I’ve never really felt but want to) and as a way to adapt to our new family schedule. Ben is exceedingly busy at work right and won’t really get a reprieve until the holiday season is over. As he put it last night, if we wait until he has a free moment to decorate for the holidays it will be Christmas morning.

So with my personal reasons combined with it, we will slowly be preparing for Christmas over the next few weeks. I find this will nicely coincide with the Advent seasons lesson of preparation. This first decorations won’t go up until December 1st and that will be minimal (the wreath will go on the door, etc.), the tree will come up a week or two after that (when Ben has a moment to be a part of it), but decorations will wait. The house will slowly become decorate for the holidays, culminating on Christmas Eve.

Since the first time Ben will get to breathe a little easier is after the mad holiday rush, we’re going to extend our holidays with the Epiphany season, keeping the tree up and finding ways to make our celebration last as we finally can relax and enjoy the post-Christmas calm.

Other goals for the season:
*have an Advent wreath in the home and use it accordingly
*extend my beloved Christmas music selection to include more non-secular traditional music
*research, learning and prayer
*food, lots and lots of food
*time outside, apparently our town gets pretty decked out for the holidays and I can’t wait to take it all in
*continue my volunteer work and maybe do a little more
*church – I’m excited to see the holidays from a new viewpoint at Trinity and want to participate in as much as possible
*family and friends – find as many ways to connect with our loved ones

It seems like I’m going to try to fit in a lot in just over a month, but I’m excited to have a thoughtful and meaningful holiday season this year.

Well, it’s not much of a count but I’m on day two of my very long break from work and oh it’s nice. Closing of the shows was quite nice. I was “appreciated” by a good number of my actors
and combined with a surprising last work check (who knew I had vacation time?) am feeling quite comfortable with the prospect of not really working for a little while.

As I told Ben the other night, this is quite possibly the first time I’ve really had off since I started college so about eight, almost nine years. If you look at it from a “work” stand point I have been working for 11 years in at least a part time capacity (since I was 15)… if only all of that was full time I’d be half way to retirement! It’s a nice feeling to have some real down time for once. Having never gone on “Spring Break” and constantly having a job, I’m looking at this as my first real vacation since high school!

That being said I still have a house I’m trying to get cleaned and in order before Saturday when I travel back to the mid-west for some family time and a little school related research. But I’ve been entertaining myself while cleaning and organizing with British romantic literary drama’s via Netflix. And upon my return I do have a nice stack of reading to keep me occupied when I get back and a few shelves full of things just waiting to be made into Christmas presents!

It’s also day two after my dearest friends wedding, which I couldn’t not attend and distressed me to no end. I can’t wait for another day or two to pass so that I can call her up and have our first conversation both as married women. I know it sounds selfish but I have such a list of things I want to tell her and discuss (she’s wonderful for a nice attentive discussion!) that I’ve put on the back burner as to not risk detracting from her wonderful wedding. We’re both playing housewife this winter as we wait for contracts to start up again and I just know this will generate so much to share!

Anyways, I’ve also started other little web-pages to keep my mind occupied. I have one, The New Domestics (the old name of this blog) that will get update ever now and then with writings on topics I find relevant and Just Simply Reads which will be were I can share my opinions on whatever I’m reading as I can’t seem to go more than a week without uttering the phrase “I’ve got something great you need to read!”

Hope everyone else is enjoying a nice week so far!

Typically I run the decorating of our home, but usually try to okay things with Ben as they’re brought into the house. Yesterday I came home with a surprise, something I found while getting end of the season presents for my co-workers. For some reason I was a little skeptical as to how Ben would react, but once he walked in the door the smile on his face announced that I might have found the best Halloween decoration ever!

Oh and I also picked up a very little something just because I liked it.

And go here to read about some Good-Old-Fashioned-Iowa-City-Halloween-Hijinx.

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