Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The Next 5 Days of Christmas: What We Need in Times of Crisis

Where to begin?
I am exhausted, excited and a bit confused. I say confused because as I have written previously here, Christmas was taken from me for a very long time. It took a long time to get it back and I do believe it is here to stay; but, at times I have my doubts. For sure, last year was scary. Is it MS? Is it lupus? Is it Leukemia? Spending Christmas Eve in the hospital was very sad last year. But despite it, Christmas stayed and we had a wonderful time. Now with the tragedy of Newton and me working in the mental health profession and with news of the passing of an old family friend (he died as my father prayed over him- it was also my dad's birthday), I feel as if I am on a slippery slope again. Celebrating the 25 Days of Christmas and living with Mr. Griswald himself has helped. But over everything else what has helped me with my confusion and mixed emotions has been my faith in God.  Through daily prayer I have come to accept the fact that mixed emotions are ok even if at Christmastime.

When President Lincoln's son Will passed, Mr. Lincoln was said to have been terribly shaken by his death. At his eulogy, Dr. Gurley, a minister, delivered some powerful words…words that best described what we can do in times of crisis.

What we need in the hour of trial, and what we shoud seek by earnest prayer, is confidence in Him who sees the end from the beginning and doeth all things well. Only let us bow in His presence with an humble and teachable spirit; only let us be still and know that He is God; only let us acknowledge His hand, and hear His voice, and inquire after His will, and seek His holy spirit as our counsellor and guide, and all, in the end, will be well.

And bowing down with a humble and teachable spirit is what I am trying to do. I am also learning to come to quiet with my emotions.  By doing so I have discovered that I can have my mixed emotions (I am human) and still rest assured that these will pass. So despite the pain, tragedy and mixed emotions, in the end I rest in confidence upon the Rock who knows the end from the beginning and does everything well. It is this trust in my Savior that leads me to say, let there be more merriment and celebration! For unto us a Savior is born!

The Next Five Days (11 - 15)

Day 11: Baked chocolate chip cookies. If you are an on the go mommy, its ok to use the store bought dough;-)
Day 12: I knew that I just didn't have enough time to make something Christmasy out of this yarn someone gave me (folks give me yarn all the time- not sure why).  But psychedelic ornaments are always groovin'.
Day 13:  A musical day: I forgot to plan an activity. I came home later than usual. Here is why in case the little ones read this one day and wonder why momma seemed so very allover the place some times : 1) go to work- I had clinicals this day leave at 2pm  2) pick up Little Miss A @ 3pm  3) Run to the grocery store 4) Pick up Little Mr. G by 4:30 pm 5) Post office run w. both kids 6) Drop off donated items 7) Get home before 6 pm 8) Open the door 3 times to visitors right before I started. 9) Run around like a madwoman cleaning bathrooms and tables and rooms 10) pretend you got it together and had planned for the neighbor kids to come over and have a musical day. They had tons of fun singing for Little Mr. G's concert at school.
Day 14: Enjoyed the precious voices of little ones singing joyfully
Day 15:Christmas light run. Seeing the holiday spirit everywhere just makes my heart swell….

I wish you well at Christmastime
I wish you oh so much Peace
I wish you well at Christmastime
And may its joy never cease!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

So much for slowing down...

I do this to myself every year. I promise myself and the hubster that I will slow down at Christmas and enjoy it to the fullest. I promise myself that I will sit and watch movies with the family; that I will send out the Christmas cards on time; that I will be done with all of my crochet gifts by October; that I will not take anymore orders. Yet, here I am, 15 days before the big day and I am bombarded.
I am committing myself publicly to be at least halfway done with this list by the end of the week (NO procrastinating):

  1. I still have 3  scarves to finish 
  2. 3 more beard hats to finish (completed 6)
  3. 1 more adult owl hat to finish
  4. 2 lace scarves to finish 
  5. finish baking for  our annual cookie exchange at work
  6. help out at Little A's school club party
  7. speak at a women's event on the 13th- OMG that's tomorrow!
  8. do something about the forest that are my eyebrows- this should scare folks tomorrow
  9. buy the hubsters gifts (this is bad- very bad- I am way behind)
  10. buy little G Optimus Prime and Bulkhead toys (oh the names!)
  11. attend two Christmas parties that I'd rather skip but must go to
  12. make flautas for little G's potluck singalong at his preschool
  13. keep my dentist appointment and physical therapy appts
  14. mail the Christmas cards
  15. call dad and brother for their birthday
  16. finish moving my office (yay I got a bigger office with an awesome window!)
  17. get to the zoo lights and other 25 Days of Christmas events…..all by Saturday or bust!!! 
  18. And for the love of mercy, Gabli make sure you can sit down and catch up on some Alaska: the Last Frontier and Parenthood while sipping tea…sigh.

The house smells divine, of baked goods
Everyone but mom is asleep
All is quiet and calm as it should
But I must hurry and bake more sweets

Monday, December 10, 2012

The First 10 Days of Christmas

Dear Lord it has been busy around here and I need a nap. I still need to finish about 6 crochet projects and those crazy beard hats have taken off at work so the orders are coming in. I make them with the fu-manchu mustache or with the evil curled mustache and folks like them.  I think I will add a goatee to one or two just to see. I also have a ton of baking to do for our annual gluttons calorie intake, I mean our annual cookie exchange at work. I tend to stick to the same cookies every year; but this year I have been blessed with a great neighbor who knows her cookies!  Jaime over at More Than I'd Hope For is a great baker and has given me a great recipe to make.
I also have been making  All Bran Bread for a couple of years now for this event. Its a great and simple recipe that lends itself to some tinkering. I may have to try it with pumpkin instead of banana. If you make it, try it with cream cheese and jam… yumm.
Despite the busyness and the endless balls of yarn I still have to attack, I have been taking time out for my family. Last year was very difficult and I "missed" Christmas. I didn't get to sit by the tree and read the Birth of Christ from the bible to the kids; We didn't get to go see Santa; I didn't get to see A Christmas Story with my hubby; I didn't get to go shopping with the kiddos for dad's gift and so many more traditions that we missed. This year I have claimed them all back and have started with our 25 days of Christmas regardless of how tired we are.

Day 1: Breakfast and hot coco at our favorite "go to only on special occasions" restaurant and salt dough ornaments.
Day 2: Wheaton Gospel choir event at our church: great music that makes any Scrooge get into the Christmas spirit.
Day 3: The yearly ornament buy. Amazing how it takes Little G two seconds to make up his mind yet 2 hours for Little A to decide.
Day 4: Red and White Paper Orbs - this is a great idea I got from How About Orange but I can't seem to find the tutorial. If you find it and decide to make it, use the larger strips. This is not an easy one for preschoolers.
Day 5: Awana Christmas Evening: To hear our daughter sing a song that has been very difficult for me to hear at Christmastime and to not cry when I heard it sung, was rather satisfying. I never post pics of our little ones, but I cannot help myself. We all think our children are beautiful and indeed they are. They are true gifts from God that, as one pal puts it, we get to unwrap every morning. So I had to post one of my beautiful mini-me singing sweetly.
Dec 6:  Recycled art: I got inspired while driving home and sipping the last of my water. Well actually, I felt guilty and felt that I needed to make something with those little bottles that take forever to break down. Although we recycle them, yes I still feel guilty. We made a sort of ship in a bottle/ globe art thingy with them. But no ship- just a dino and moose.
Dec 7: Recycled CD ornaments for our backyard trees: Another inspiration I got as I cleaned the computer area.
Dec 8: Kris Kringle time! One of  my sister's introduced me to the idea of Kris Kringles as a teen and I love the idea. So for our kids, we got them a snapping ball thingy that they must share. Except that the hubster ended up using it most of the time. I did have a blast seeing them play outside in the cold.
Dec 9: Family movie night at our church in our PJ's: One big cozy and loud event;)
Dec 10: Write a letter/Christmas card to a soldier. Some of these ideas are a miss with our kids. My 4 yr old didn't want to do it because he said he didn't personally know the soldier. I think we just did a horrible job at explaining it to him.

So 15 more ideas needed. 
I come up with our Christmas ideas as I go (usually out of guilt about how much garbage we generate) or I steal, I mean borrow the inspirations, from friends and family members and the internet of course. I hope I can come up with 15 more. If you have one, please share it. I may have to resort to baking 15 different types of cookies which wouldn't be a bad idea.

Hope your Christmas Days are awesome!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Its beginning to look a lot like Christmas...

If you know me, you know I LOVE CHRISTMAS!!! I get as excited as a child for Christmas activities, decor, Christmas music, snow and anything Christmas.  I am especially psyched this year because last year was difficult for me having to shuffle around and needing help to move at times.  Although I am sore and a btt stiff as I write this, I am much better than last year and this gives me lots of reasons to celebrate the Birth of the Messiah! We already started our 25 days of Christmas- our version of the Advent calendar. We don't write these down before hand because really we make them up as we go or we always have an emergency and end up canceling something and doing two things at once. But at the end of the 25 days, we put all of our pics in a scrapbook that I hope to share with you after Christmas (if I remember).

I married Mr. Griswald himself and I love it!!! It was his idea to change the tree color scheme every year. This year we are going with my favorite, reds and gold. He went out and got red and white holly lights just for me;). The house is cozy and ready for Christmas. The weather is not so cozy. Why is it 65 degrees in December?
Every year he goes high up on the rooftop to cover the house in lights. This year, I told him "tomalo suave" (to take it easy). Most of our lights (expensive as they were) are dead. In lieu of that we are mixing it up outside. We always go either colorful or all white (I prefer all white). This year its a giant mix of colors and I don't mind.

Inside, the kiddos have been busy making salt dough ornaments :

I subjected my poor kids and some friends to a scary Christmas puppet show as one of our Christmas activities. The kids actually didn't mind it but I could not stop my nervous laughter when I saw the face of some of those puppets. They are creepy looking:

                                     Family members are getting lots of crochet from me and handmade gifts from fellow crafters. Here is one I have been working on. Again, I didn't use a pattern and I wish I had.
I am off to finish my crochet as I get flooded with sweet memories of my dear grandma at this time of the year. I miss you abuela and I know that one day I will see you again. Meanwhile, I will Sing Praise Adonai here on Earth as you do in heaven while I get ready for Christmas:
...Praise Adonai 
From the rising of the sun 
'Til the end of every day 
Praise Adonai 
All the nations of the earth 
All the angels and the saints 
Sing Praise  (Paul Baloche)


Thursday, November 15, 2012

Exhausted Chaos!

Dear Lord this woman is tired! But good tired. I think.
A few weeks ago, there was calm and time to pick fall flowers to brighten my home.
Then the planning started for annual artisan's market and our first bake sale at work.   I work for a Hospital but collaborate with a non-for-profit community center that simply stated ROCKS! Funds raised go to our women's empowerment program that also simply stated, ROCKS!

I try to not be a one man show, but because we don't have a ton of staff and everyone is super busy, I tend to do a one man show thing. Thankfully, there are always angels that show up and I can say stuff like "Can your price these as you see fit?", and it gets done;) I heart independent thinking people.

 So of course I had to crochet stuff and make stuff. 

First I had to make a banner of some sort. It amazes me the things I can do with Microsoft Word. I have designed logos, etc. on it with success. 
I also need more bunting, more bunting, more bunting for our tables. Bunting is as addictive as hat making. From mad hatter to mad bunter (if that is even a word)! 
 OK, maybe we didn't need more stars… but I couldn't help myself. 
This one just makes me happy… its made from left over yarn and each yarn tells a story (the first hat I made, the first hat for Little A in a certain stitch…pieces of information that are taking up valuable retail space in my head).

On to the crochet…

I made a few infinity scarves that became the hit at the artisan's market. I wish I had made more. I like how you can wrap them around twice for thicker warmth.

 On to the baking…

Little pumpkin spice cakes in a bundt pumpkin shape with melted frosty goodness= little snow topped mountains. My baking sheet also died this day..sniff

While I absolutely enjoyed the goodness at the market and meeting the Happy Walrus guru that makes awesome hats, smelling Desperate Soapwife's awesome soaps, creating, organizing and the heavy lifting associated with putting together a bake sale and artisan market….

… it has tired me out!  

Not to mention that there are pieces of yarn everywhere, the family had to order pizza for dinner (there goes our budget), I drank pop to stay awake (tsk tsk), my hands are killing me from crocheting to fast, I pulled a muscle or pinched a nerve near my neck while hauling tables, my throat hurts from talking so much, 
there are baking goods still out and my dinning room table looks like 
a craft army threw up on it. 

But alas, I have been busy,
and busy is good,
For if I am not busy,
I'd be cranky and quite rude.

But alas I am tired,
and tired is also good,
I've been highly inspired,
And it puts me in a good mood.

And at last I'll fall asleep
And my bed is oh so good
Thanking God, since this sheep
Has been able to do some good.
by Gabli

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Practicing Thanksgiving...

Practicing Thanksgiving day desserts. I made this crumbled apple something…. whatever it was, it was delicious. I need to figure out how to take better pics in the evenings. 
The hubster is working over time. My partner in crime is greatly missed. But, I have no excuse as to why I shouldn't get the "chors" list done. Its raining and the kids want to have a snuggle day (Snuggle Day: wake up late, stay in pj's as long as you can, read, play, eat, watch movies, bake: snuggle- also known as a lazy day). I find it refreshing after a week of long drives, appointments, after school activities and busy schedules that they want to stay in today and relax. 
I take advantage of their business and pick up the house. How do we get it so messy in one week?!! It relaxes me to clean, to organize, to make the house sparkle. Its also when I do my best thinking. My thoughts are simple. Give thanks to the One who makes it all possible and ask myself what am grateful for. I started to make a mental list but it quickly got filled with "things" after the usual thanks for family and friends. This bothered me. It bothered me a ton. I have never been materialistic so I shouldn't be thankful for flowers, yarn and other "things". I want my list to be full of the unseen things that make days easier. So here goes. Twelve things I am thankful for outside of the loves of my life (my family):
  1. God's mercy with me
  2. my home and I don't mean house but a home where we belong
  3. my daughter's imagination, intuition & sense of humor that transcends her age 
  4. the way rain makes me feel relaxed
  5. my son's gentle touch when his sister gets hurt
  6. my mother's letters that crack me up
  7. my son's contagious smile
  8. my family's acceptance of each other
  9. how my husband supports my hobbies and actively participates - even if he doesn't care much for them, he acts like he does ;)
  10. 9pm when the house is quiet, clean, candles are burning and kids are asleep, and I get mommy time
 I have always been thankful, but now realize that I was thankful for things. This is ok too. But,  I need to be thankful for the unseen because it is the unseen that makes me happiest. And, so this is what I will be practicing this weekend as I clean, scrub and literally breath in way too many cleaning fumes…cough…cough.


Monday, October 29, 2012

Pumpkins N' Stars N' Pancakes Oh My!

Viva la Pumpkin! Everything is going pumpkin around here. From pancakes, to coffee to breads and sweets. I do love this time of year and am not sure if its because of the pumpkins or the leaves all over the place. My favorite: pumpkin pancakes. I just add pumpkin spice to the mix then sauté apples, honey, nutmeg, cinnamon, sugar and a wee bit of water. I pour this over the pancakes and its deliciousness. 

Although we really aren't into Halloween around here, we do like to get creative with our pumpkins. Our little girl knew from the start what she wanted: LOTS of colors and beads and bedazzled the pumpkin. Of course, mom and dad were the ones getting burned with the glue gun. But, she did direct the whole thing and was picky about what charm or bead went where. We like to play I-Spy with it so we call it the I Spy Pumpkin. Our little boy kept it simple. Thank God! Just some stars and moons. 

Now for stars:

A coworker is having a little baby girl soon. We are hoping for the name "Samantha". We have been praying for "Sam" for a while due to previous complications and losses. This pregnancy has not been easy at all. She was having the exact same symptoms as with the previous pregnancy and all of the fears, worries and yes depression came back. Thank God that she has been able to pull through it. I helped the only way I could: encouraging , listening (listening is very very underrated and it happens to be the best form of therapy- hey if God uses this method, why shouldn't we?), and with a little crochet. Because she is on bed rest, its important to help her keep busy. I am amazed at the strength of friends who gather around to help her with her two little ones and keep her busy! Women ROCK!  Anyhoo, I taught her how to crochet and gave her tips over the phone when she got stuck. She wanted to crochet a bunting or swag for Sam's room (I really hope they give her that name), but having two small ones, a household to care for and lots of pelvic pain is keeping her from being able to accomplish this and finish a granny square blanket for her baby at the same time. So, last night while I watched the Bears defeat the Panthers (Da Bears!), I went to it and in less than an hour- I think about 30 minutes, I made giant stars. You can find the pattern here at the Royal Sisters.  There are many variations on this pattern and I personally prefer to turn the work than slip stitching into the same opening as directed. Its an easy star to make and perfect for Christmas too! I then starched it using a very elaborate and complicated and expensive method. Ha!

 When I started this blog, I had 3 choices at the name
1) Gabli Musing
2) I don't know what I am doing
3) Ghetto crafting.
Ghetto crafting may be appropriate for this. Ghetto crafting - and I do not feel guilty saying ghetto crafting b/c I grew up in some very shady parts of the big city- is all about using what you have and in the fastest, easiest way possible.

-If you must leave your home to get an item for the project, you are NOT ghetto crafting. If you are using top of the line materials you are NOT ghetto crafting. Its all about exploring your home for what you need, inventing and saving mula. Its about doing your project right now instead of waiting till you have all the right materials at hand.

OK, so for the starching or rather stiffening of the stars I used equal parts white glue and water. I mixed them well and then brushed them on because I didn't have a spray bottle at hand. Its the same mix for mod-podge. I pinned my stars to a box I found in the mess room, brushed the mixture on and went to bed. This morning they are nice and stiff on one side and soft on the other. I won't do both side because its not needed.

They look adorable in my eyes and I hope Sam approves. More importantly, Sam's mom is a star in my book. She is always smiling despite the downs life has taken. She is a fighter, a community activist, passionate about her profession and always willing to give someone a hand. I am fortunate to know her.  I pray that she has strength for the delivery, delivers a healthy happy Sam and that this hat fits at some point because I didn't use a pattern….again.

NOTE 2: 
I used a cardboard box to pin my stars so of course they were glued on. That's another component of ghetto crafting: dealing with the side effects of not having all of your materials at hand and then getting frustrated about it as if its not your fault. 
But, the stars did come up easily and no cardboard was glued on. Those that I didn't pin all the way to the bottom didn't have this problem. Next time I will use an old empty frame I have. I'm sure the glue won't stick so well to glass, right? Yet another component of ghetto crafting---taking chances. 

I hope you are :
-enjoying something pumpkin 
-taking chances with your crafting
-seeing stars but not because you passed out but because there are awesome people in your life 

Monday, October 15, 2012

Lake Geneva Wisconsin

I was blessed with a relaxing weekend getaway- (well it was meant to be relaxing but for very active children who came along)-to Lake Geneva Wisconsin. The name of that town just rolls out so sweetly. A dear co-worker set us up in her vacation home in the Geneva National (a Golf Resort). While we do not golf, we got to enjoy a wonderful stay in a gorgeous home. Every room had a splendid view.

And despite the rain and thunder, the colors were wonderful!

 The warm fire kept us cozy as we read from a magnificent collection of books, crocheted with the little princess and watched movies. I actually made a wrist warmer or a fingerless glove sort of thing while sitting here and watching the Avengers (love that Hulk!). Unfortunately - as is always the  case with me- I didn't write the pattern down and have no clue how to get started on the left side! But just the fact that I sat still and not due to illness but rather by choice, is amazing. I will admit that the hubster stopped me from vacuuming and dusting a couple of times. I can't help it- I am always busy at home. I appreciate the fact that I can because it was nearly a year ago that I could not move at all 
and could barely breath. 
Today I can, and so I will, move, make and do.

 I have never been around a beach at autumn. 
Interesting how autumn leaves marry the seaweed and the sand.

 We collected sea shells and watched the waves.
Ahhh to be back there soon. 

BTW, if you are interested in renting this glorious home in this private community, its on VRBO here. It is worth it! All of our needs were met and the town is splendid. And, I am not just saying that because my friend owns the place, it is truly a beautiful and peaceful retreat for a family, a wedding gathering, a golf adventure or a girls weekend away. 

Have a pleasant autumn season!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Mad hatter at it again

The mad hatter is at it again. I cannot help myself. I have too much yarn and I must get rid of it so why not make hats?

I like working with this thick yarn. Hats are finished rather quickly.
NOTE: Before you scroll below you should know that I don't ever wear make-up (ok last time was on Christmas 2011) - you've been warned.

Flower power...

 I love the bright green color of this one. I got used to the thick yarn I have been working with this past month and wanted to get that feel in this hat. So, I doubled the yarn. It didn't feel/look the same, but it does have a look all its own.

Oh freckles, freckles everywhere and no makeup or Clinque.LOL

Hope the fall weather by you is cool enough that you must wear a lovely hat…