Monday, November 24, 2014

Cleaning the House New/Old School -- aka -- I Am Really Lazy

Saturday was a banner day for me.  I got up with loads of energy and I had great plans.  I was going to clean house.  Now, you must understand -- this sort of thing doesn't happen to me often.  I am not domestic.  Not even remotely.  I grew up with a mother that would be known today as a "clean freak".  She cleaned -- a lot.  I don't know that she LOVED it -- I don't remember her saying but she detested clutter and there was precious little around of that.  Of course, we lived in a 950 sq. ft. house which was typical of the time so there wasn't a lot of room for too much clutter.  In any event, I always lived in a very clean -- I mean Clorox clean -- house. 

My children lived in a clean house but I really couldn't stand the smell of Clorox so I used other things.  I used to clean the bathroom tile with a toothbrush and dust didn't land anywhere.  We lived in a small house but we had more room to store things so more things were collected.

The kids grew.  The collections grew.  I learned that one would not die from clutter.  One might go crazy but not die.  So what did I do, little Mrs. Non-Domestic?  I decided to ignore the whole thing and take up hobbies.  Lots of hobbies with lots and lots of things.  More clutter, more mess, yuck.

So, the kids are grown, most of their stuff has gone and I have reached a point in my life that I want my toothbrush and tile floors back.  I don't want the hobby stuff, I don't want the clutter, I can live without the magazines -- I just want it clean.

Well, that's great but over the years I have learned to really, really dislike housework.  So, back to Saturday.  I decided to start cleaning in my bedroom.  I have a large window seat that seems to attract "stuff" like a magnet.  I worked on that for quite sometime.  Then I dusted, vacuumed, tacked the know, cleaned the room.  It. Took. All, Day.  I decided to do everything with the vacuum cleaner -- I dusted the furniture, I dusted the shutters, I dusted the exercise equipment (which needs a new home, BTW) and at the end of the day you couldn't tell I had done a thing.  I was too tired to even put the vacuum cleaner away.

Fast forward to today.  I got up with great plans -- going to finish cleaning the house.  BUT.....I was going old school -- with sort of new techniques.  I dusted with microfiber cloths, cleaned the bathrooms with microfiber cloths, dust mopped the hard floors with my Big Woolly wool dust mop, use my little carpet sweeper on the throw rugs, mopped with my Rubbermaid microfiber spray mop and threw away all the seasonal holiday catalogs that have invaded my mailbox.

I got all that done in the length of time it took me to argue with myself about dragging out the vacuum cleaner. 

So, I guess it is official. I am living in the 50's.  I am just a little lazy.  I am not keeping up with the times but I got done quickly enough today to have time to play with my Nook tablet -- the one I have had for two years and not messed with -- and I figured out how to check out library books on it and how to listen to audio books on it!

So, yes, a day well spent!

Monday, November 17, 2014


The new baby, Emily, has arrived on the first snowy night of the season.  She arrived at 1:09 a.m. and weighed in at 7lb. 5 oz. and is 20.75 inches long.  Rumor has it there may be a trace of red hair.  I haven't seen her yet so I have no photos.  That will happen later this afternoon.  I can't wait to meet her.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

The Mistress's Daughter

A few days ago I finished reading "Somewhere Safe with Somebody Good" and was looking for a short read before I was scheduled to receive a book order from Ebay.  I went to my bookshelf -- the one that is completely organized with a good number of unread books and I searched for something that looked like a quick yet interesting read.

My eyes fell on "The Mistress's Daughter" by A.M. Homes.  It is not a long book and I figured that I could knock it out pretty quickly which I did.  I figured it was a novel about, well, a mistress's daughter.  I was wrong.  At the first page I realized that I was reading an autobiography.  A really sad autobiography.  I will admit it was pretty depressing in the beginning and then we hear about Ms. Homes learning that her biological mother was looking for her.  We are introduced to the biological mother only to realize that she isn't a stable person.  We meet the father and learn that he isn't a great guy and never was.  During all of this we don't hear a whole lot about the adoptive parents -- it is a story of her struggle to deal with her past.  As the book progresses, however, and Ms. Homes learns more and more of her heritage we learn of her desire to join the DAR and her struggled with that.  As I read along the book that started out a personal and painful journey turned into a genealogical study which fascinated me.  Toward the end we learn about her adoptive family and the grandmother that Ms. Homes adores -- and the table.  The table is fascinating. 

All in all, I really enjoyed this book.  It was different than I imagined, it was sad, it was emotional but, in the end, it was joyful.  For a quick read to sandwich between more important books, it was a great choice but  it was too good to be a "sandwich" so if you want to read it, give it the time it deserves.  As I looked at the picture of that beautiful child on the cover I felt that I had even let her down, sandwiching her story between other stories and that was not right.  It is well worth reading and it deserves the time and attention of any other work that might be in your queue.

I definitely recommend to anybody who does genealogy, anybody adopted who doesn't know their whole story or anybody who is just interested in a completely different, compelling read.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Somewhere Safe With Somebody Good -- Jan Karon

I have just finished reading Jan Karon's latest instalment in the Mitford series  -- Somewhere Safe With Somebody Good.  Prior to this book, Karon had more or less ended this series and then  proceeded with the Father Tim books which dealt with Father Tim's youth and with a monumental trip to Ireland.  Both of those books were a little deeper and darker than the Mitford series, they showed a different side of the beloved Father Tim.

This latest work, however, brings us back to Mitford after Father Tim and Cynthia's visit to Ireland.  They don't have long to get settled back into their usual routine before the life in the little North Carolina town draws them in.  There is the family with the good news -- Dooley -- and the bad news -- Sammy.  There are the long time friends, neighbors and parishioners -- some we watch go from deep despair to great joy - Hope -- and the possible romance -- Helene and Harley maybe? Or perhaps the spray tan queen and the fly boy.  Father Tim is involved in all their lives to some extent and it is so interesting to watch him juggle these relationships with grace and the knowledge of when to get involved and when not to.  His wisdom would be a good lesson for anybody.

For anybody who thinks small town life would be boring they should read the Mitford books.  Are small towns really like this?  I wouldn't know but I like to think they are.  In any event, I enjoyed once more, being able to "live" in Mitford for a while.  I hope there is another in the series so that we aren't left hanging wanting to know what happens to Hope, Scott and Grace and Dooley and Lace and all the rest of the quirky yet loveable characters.  I don't think Karon would do that, however, as there is so much more story to tell.

I, for one, will be waiting.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Time to Bring Out the Turkey Planter

Isn't she cute?  She was a gift to me from my Aunt V many years ago.  She came with a real plant but anybody who knows me knows that wouldn't last long.  So, each year, I deck her out in some lovely silk foliage and display her near our table.  I think she is so cute and should have a name --Thomasina, perhaps - the female to the traditional Tom?

I feel the Thanksgiving season coming on! I love it!

I am turning my thoughts to my Christmas decoration and I feel I am in need of a large Nativity set up.  I have several others that I put around but I need a larger one for use with my Advent activities.  I think a trip out is necessary.

So, have  a wonderful day! I will let you know if I come home with anything.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Monday --

It is Monday.  It is cold and getting colder.  I forgot to take my allergy meds last night so I am all stuffy with a headache.  Should get a flu shot today.  Need to go grocery shopping just in case the weather gets very bad -- I don't think it will but we have been known to have ice in November and I don't want to be caught without the necessary paper products, milk, allergy meds and a turkey.

Fortunately I have lots of reading material and sewing projects.  I stocked up on flour, sugar and eggs so I can do some baking if I wish.  Must get some gas in the car just in case.  All this prep should shoot the temps back up into the 70's right?  Isn't that how it usually works?  I have lived in North Texas for 24 years and am still baffled by how much different the weather is here than "home" -- San Antonio.

Getting on with my Christmas prep.  Going to start some decorations of the homemade variety today.  Have a few things ordered and on the way.  My minimalistic thinking has finally crept into the holidays -- token gifts this year.  Nobody "needs" anything we have to give anymore.  When the kids were first married there was always something for their house or their kitchen,now, not so much.  When the kids were tiny there was always some new toy or new clothes but now, their needs have changed as well.  We have a new "little" on the way which could probably use some wintery things since she is coming in the middle of this cold snap so that will probably be in order but for the most part -- a few things to let them know we love them and have thought of them -- a hug and a kiss and watch them grow another year.  I have watched my daughter stress out over trying to declutter their house -- mostly outgrown clothes and toys -- and I have made a mental note not to add to that.  Nothing is worse than trying to live in a house that has too much stuff.  Both my children live in adequate -- even large -- houses but realistically -- no house is meant to store unlimited amounts of stuff no longer useable.  So, I will do my part to help them out and my gifts will be thoughtful, small and not of the variety that will generate guilt if they decide to toss them.  Nothing is worse than having to hang on to things because "somebody made it" or "somebody bought that for you".  They are things and unless it is valuable -- like jewelery or coins or such -- I don't expect my kids to keep what I buy for posterity.  Well, maybe the books.

I do like giving books as gifts.  When I was a child reading was a wonderment to me -- I was thrilled when I learned how and from that time on my main source of entertainment was reading.  It still is.  And coloring in color books.  I still love that as well -- yes, I color but I use colored pencils now and color by number books for adults!  Shhh-- don't tell anybody but the latent artist in me -- you know, the one who can't draw a straight line with a ruler -- loves to color.

I digress.

Speaking of books, I am almost 3/4 of the way done with the new Jan Karon work "Somewhere Safe With Somebody Good".  As usual, she has done a beautiful job of creating an environment that I can get lost in.  I can recommend the whole series without reservation.  Great cold weather reads.

I bought a couple of books off the internet last week.  The next in the Agatha Raisin series -- "The Terrible Tourist" and a book I saw my daughter reading "An American Childhood".  I have been reading the Raisin books on my Nook but have discovered that I can get them cheaper by either going to Half Price Books or Ebay.  I don't really want to start collecting the whole series but I have to be cognisant of my quest to get want I want at the very best price I can.  Obviously the best price would be free and I am going to make an effort to frequent the library but it is a habit I have gotten out of and I am sorry -- note to self -- must do better in that department.  I honestly don't know why I am acquiring books in any form at all -- I have two complete shelves on my bookshelf devoted to yet unread books.  Reading, to me, is a bit like quilting -- I have to be in the mood for something so my reading really has no rhyme or reason -- just what hits me at the moment.  Sort of like my entire day to day existence.


Ok, I am getting very rambly now -- don't really have much to say and no really great pics to share.  I am enjoying the pics of the poppies and in the Tower of London moat -- such beauty to represent such sorrow -- very striking photos though -- I hope they leave them there indefinitely.

Have a wonderful Monday, all!

Wednesday, November 05, 2014

A Rant, A Craft and a Plan

Ok, first the rant.  I went to Joann Fabric and Craft Store over the weekend to purchase some Wilton decorations for cupcakes.  While I was there I decided to look for some cute Thanksgiving decor.  I don't do much decorating but I love to set small stuff around just for color and atmosphere.  I was taken by surprise when I discovered that there was nothing there! No little pillows or pictures, nothing with inspirational words, nothing orange/gold/green -- no TURKEYS!  Instead I found myself in an ocean of red and green peppermint stripes! Really?  When did we do away with Thanksgiving?  Is this political?  Is this an effort to make American's forget our history?  If it is that easy to just simple abolish something as traditional as Thanksgiving is Christmas next? Probably not -- too much money involved there.  While I am sure it is just a "retail thing" my imagination makes me think there is something more sinister afoot.  If nothing else, America needs to slow down.  Way down.  We are just charging through life like a lightening bolt.  I don't like it.  Not one bit.  Something has to change but I am afraid that it has to be the people that change it because I don't think the retail society will do anything but get worse.  I for one am closing out the retail world until after New Years. Bah humturkey.

Rant over.

I haven't said much here because my daughter in law prefers her privacy and I respect that wish but, in the middle of Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas plans, we are expecting a new addition to the family.  A baby is due to my son and daughter in law in mid November so  we are planning for this event as well.  I was asked to provide some crafty items so I spent last weekend working on these and this is what I came up with.

It is common practice here to decorate the hospital doors with something festive to let the visitors know who is new and who is living in that room for a day or two.  I have done this with my other three grandchildren and this one is no different.  So, this is what I did for the door --

Painted some wooden letter with Wicker White craft paint and pink paint pen for accents

Sewed some pink fabric from the quilt to some green fabric and backed with fusible interfacing (Pellon)

Placed in an embroidery hoop and glued the edges down -- secured with clothes pins till dry

Blank canvas waiting for embellishment

Glued on the name and then a cute little wooden bunny.  The bunny was chosen because there is a bunny in the quilt fabric

I chose these ribbons to go with the colors of the fabric

Big puffy bows aren't my strong suit but it looks ok

Finished product! Hanging by a sheer white ribbon

I am making a quilt but I am not finished.  It isn't a secret so I will share some information about it.  It is a wrapping paper quilt -- or striped quilt-- the fabrics are peach/pink/green/turquoise and a stripe.  It is the striped fabric that also has a little turquoise bunny.  It sounds boyish but it isn't -- it is very girly and I really like the way the colors work together to make a very lively, yet babyish quilt.  I will post photos when done.

I was also asked to make a dresser scarf and a nightstand scarf.  I did that as well but I didn't have enough quilt fabric to use so I just chose a white fabric with very pale pink polka dots.  It will blend nicely with the quilt even if it doesn't match perfectly.  Unfortunately I was in such a hurry to get the project completed I didn't take photos but they were very plain so you can imagine what they looked like.

So, that brings me to "The Plan".  It has occurred to me that my record keeping practices need to be improved upon.  Maybe that should read "implemented" as I don't really keep records of any sort about anything.  Then, when I need to refer back to a project, a purchase  or a recipe I don't have anything to look at and my memory is good but I am finding that it isn't as easy to recall some things as it used to be.  I do have a recipe box which works nicely for the recipes but I decided that I needed a notebook for just that -- notes.  While in my neighborhood Target store the other day I noticed that they had cute little 5 X 8 loose leaf notebooks with all the supplies -- paper, dividers, etc.  I was headed out this a.m. to get one but one look at the pouring rain and I decided to look around and see what I had in the house that would suffice.

I just love it when I practice what I preach!  Shop your own house!  I found a 1" white loose leaf binder that is brand new, unused.  I still buy school supplies in August, even though my children are grown, and I have a huge supply of notebook paper.  I picked up a bag and what did I find but a new set of dividers.  So, I didn't have to go out in the rain and I didn't have to spend any money to buy what I already had.  I felt so accomplished! 

Now that I have the "household" notebook and a set of 8 dividers I am going to organize my purchases, recipes that I use routinely, ongoing lists, holiday lists, etc.  And I am keeping it where I can find it and refer to it -- no putting it away.  Oh, I also have a brand new box of page protectors so I can use those as well.

So, that is what I have been up to.  In the next few days I will be finishing the quilt and some Christmas projects I have started.  I will share all of it when I am farther along

Oh yes -- Happy Guy Fawkes Day to all my British family and friends!