Sunday, September 25, 2016

Rudolph Day - Christmas Cards

One of the tasks for the House and Holiday Plan for the month of September (week 3 to be exact) is to make the Christmas Card List. I like the one they suggest because it has check boxes for both sending and receiving, and it can be used for several years.
If you don't like that one, though, there are a plethora of other options. Just check Google.
I actually use something even more different. I created our address list on an Excel spreadsheet many years ago. Each year I copy that to a new file, editing it for address changes and new friends, then I print it out. After using it to address the cards we want to send, I keep it in my planner to help keep track of the cards we receive. Finally, it gets filed in the Christmas Binder as a resource for the next year. (It has also come in very handy at wedding invitation time!)

So, that's what works for us. What works for you?

I love the tradition of sending Christmas cards, even if it might seem to be a bit old-fashioned, so I plan on keeping it around as part of our Christmas celebrating. I think letting friends and family members know you're thinking of them is the perfect way to share the love and joy of the Christmas season!

Friday, September 2, 2016

HHP Week One

As mentioned last week, I decided to follow the House and Holidays Plan to help me prepare for the holidays this year. There wasn't necessarily a lot to do for holiday prep because over the years I've developed my own way of doing things that works for our family. I did pull out our "Christmas Binder" and reviewed our "values" worksheets, which showed that my ideas of a "perfect" Christmas haven't changed. That's a good thing. I also printed out our Christmas budget to keep in my planner, along with the master gift list. (Links to all of these forms can be found here, or you can create your own.)

My main focus for the week was to make progress on de-cluttering and organizing our office. The plan says to set up a household filing system. Ours is already set up, and I didn't really get around to thinning out files (that's a good January task), but I did clear off the desk, something that needs to be done on a regular basis, and I finally moved the stack of frames that's been sitting on the cabinet for months.
My main focus was the closet, so I pulled down the bins and went through them. Technically the craft room is for next week, but I have some craft supplies in our office. I got rid of some items, consolidating three boxes into two, but more importantly I remembered what's in them to begin with and started the "craft projects to finish" list.
I'm most proud of the fact that I can see the carpet again in the closet, and that the dresser top is empty. That's true because I moved that milk crate filled with photos to the top of the filing cabinet, but I think I like it better there anyway because its hidden behind the door and not in my face when I open the closet. It's also easier to getinto without the closet rod in the way.
Next week I'll tackle the sewing room, but now it's time to enjoy our Labor Day weekend!

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Happy Birthday to You!

It may be his birthday today, but the kids wanted to celebrate it when we were all together a couple of weeks ago, (except for the newlyweds who were on their honeymoon), so that means the pictures are all ready to post now.
We started the celebrating with a delicious, yet very simple, dinner of salad, pork roast, baked potatoes, green beans and my brother-in-law's yummy homemade bread and jam.
Then it was time to for the party! According to David, it's not a party without hats. He liked the idea so well he wore two; Wayne said one was too much, and that it was choking him. I'm glad he was a good sport and wore it long enough to get a picture.
Then the gift appeared!
As you can see, the little kids enjoyed his humongous present as much as, if not more than, he did.
Inside the giant refrigerator box was a doll-house refrigerator.
Image result for doll house refrigerator tomy
One of our running family jokes is that every present is a refrigerator. The kids figured it would be nice to have that actually be the gift this year, with the understanding that it's also a symbol of the father's role to provide. We're grateful Wayne's fulfilled this role so admirably.
The balloons will be popped and thrown away, and the box will return to being a children's toy until it disintegrates, but the loving thoughts (along with the letters and pictures that were also underneath the balloons) will last forever. And so will the memory of the laughter and fun surrounding the opening of this great gift.

video

Lighting the candles was a multi-person effort, but it was managed without burning down the house.
And they all got blown out in one try!
Happy Birthday to You! We love you!!
Not everyone stayed still long enough to get a picture! I guess that means they were having a good time.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Beethoven Sonata #31

Here's the blog post reporting that I did finally play Beethoven's Sonata #29 for Wayne. That was a long time ago! I know I played #30 at some point, because my bookmark is on #31. I'm hoping it will take less than another 7 years to finish the last two.
Image result for beethoven
Since I've learned that music has greater meaning if I know some of the story behind it, here are a couple of links to study to help motivate me to learn this sonata.

About the Piece

A Recording of the Sonata

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Rudolph Day - Looking Back and Looking Ahead


It's Rudolph Day! Do you know what that means? It's something someone put together many years ago to help with spreading out Christmas planning throughout the year, to help make the Christmas season less stressful. You can read more about it here - Rudolph Club. Sometimes I've actually done something about it, but never consistently. (At the bottom of this post, I'll put links to some of the months I actually completed something, so that they're all in one place.)

I remembered this today because this year we're planning on having many visitors for Christmas, and I know I'll be much happier if I do as much preparation ahead of time as possible. About twenty-five years ago I tried following the Holiday Grand Plan, and while I liked it, it just didn't fit our lifestyle. Another year I tried the Christmas Countdown (six weeks instead of eighteen devoted to holiday prep and housecleaning), and that was pretty good, but it wasn't quite "me" either. This year I thought I'd look at them again, and I found something else called the House and Holidays Plan. It looks promising.

The plan starts next week. I'm not in the middle of the first week of school or seminary or soccer or anything else that made sticking to a long-term plan difficult in the past, so here's my public declaration that I'm going to give it a try. Feel free to follow along if you'd like. Over the years I've learned that even if I don't complete every task on the list, I do more than I would have otherwise, and that's always a good thing.

Here's the schedule for the "Fall House Cleaning" (and in addition each week will have some holiday prep chores like planning menus, wardrobes, travel, and/or gifts).

1 - August 28 - Planning/Paper - Office/Den
2 - September 4 - Calendar - Craft Room
3 - September 11 - Me & Mine - Master Bedroom
4 - September 18 - Close to Home - Children's Bedrooms
5 - September 25 - House Room - Guest Room
6 - October 2 - Wardrobe - Clothes Closets and Laundry Room
7 - October 9 - Bedding & Bath - Linen Closets and Bathrooms
8 - October 16 - Family Spaces - Family Room
9 - October 23 - Public Spaces - Living Room
10 - October 30 - Cooking Space - Kitchen
11 - November 6 - Food Storage - Pantry
12 - November 13 - Dining Spaces - Dining Room
13 - November 20 - Entry Space - Entry and Coat Closets
14 - November 27 - Storage - Attic and Garage
15 - December 4 -Final Clean - Minimum Maintenance
16 - December 11 - Nearly There - Minimum Maintenance
17 - December 18 - Celebration Time
18 - December 25 - Christmas and New Year's

I need to remember this!

Past Rudolph Day Posts:








And that's as far as I got. Let's see if I can do better this time around!

Saturday, August 20, 2016

The Tale of Our Wedding Reception

Another year has rolled around, so it's time for another "wedding memory" story. (Here are the past ones: The Poisonous Berries, The Wishing Well, The Temple, Wedding Gifts.)
Our reception was a fairly typical, do-it-yourself one, held in the cultural hall of our church building. I don't remember too many of the details now, but I know my mom worked hard and a lot of friends helped. One friend made the cake, another made hundreds of mints, others helped with the decorating. 
One of the "big" decisions a bride faces is choosing the colors for her wedding. Because my favorite color is blue, and because I wanted to honor my patriotic birthday, I chose red, white and blue. I still remember how aghast Wayne was when I told him, and I remember feeling so hurt that he didn't trust me to make everything look classy and nice. Fortunately, we got over that, especially once he realized I had never planned on having the royal blue of American flag, but a baby blue.

With the baby blue, we used a bit of red in the centerpieces. (I'm not sure how we came up with the idea, but I do remember making these fabric baskets, and then giving them away to those who helped us with everything. I used mine as a sewing basket for years and years and years, until it finally fell apart. I keep telling myself that one of these days I'm going to recreate the pattern and make another one, just for memory's sake.)
We used more red in the flower arrangements.
Oh, and I guess there was some red in the favors that our little sisters passed out. Isn't it nice that Holly's wheelchair color-coordinated with everything?
We bought yards and yards of sheer blue fabric to use in decorating the room and making a backdrop for pictures and the receiving line. It was later re-purposed into a few things, including the bed skirt for the crib so I wouldn't have to look at the storage boxes under it.
We didn't serve dinner or even finger foods as I recall, just cake and punch, along with nuts and mints. So, I imagine the cake cutting ceremony took place fairly early in the evening.
Tossing the bouquet took place near the end.
We even opened our gifts that night. Totally would not recommend that to anyone in the future!
And then the reception was over and it was time to leave!




Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Springton Manor Farm


Our field trip to Springton Manor Farm was a great success. Because it's close without any entrance fee, there wasn't the pressure to try do everything at once in order to "get our money's worth." This time the goal was to check out the Great Barn and find a spot to have a picnic. We met our goal and had a great time. Some day hopefully we can go back to show Daddy and Momma the animals, and maybe check out the Manor House. Then we can go back another day (or two or three) to hike the various trails with Grandpa!

Here's the trail map so I don't have to find it again: Map of Springton Manor Farm
The first order of business was to double-check that we were on the right path to get to the Great Barn.
We were!
It is a great, big barn, and has been around for a long, long time.
Inside there were pigs, bunnies, horses and a goat.
There were also a series of "stamps stations" so the kids could mark off the squares on their "passport" paper.
Outside there were more goats and sheep.
We also walked around some of the other farm buildings. This one was called the corn crib, so I was a bit surprised to find garlic drying inside and not corn. I guess it's not quite corn season yet.
The boys thought this front porch would make a great picnic spot, but I convinced them it was still a bit too early to eat, and we continued on our way.
We checked out the vegetable garden and the chicken shed.
And then looked for the trail to the pond. The Penn Oak Trail looked promising.
We reached our destination, and of course had to find some rocks to throw into the water.
Time for lunch!
Here's one of the giant oak trees for which the trail was named. Magnificent!
These boys are pretty magnificent themselves.

Just before getting back in the car we had to stop for another round of "king of the mountain" and I'm sure that will be a favorite activity on a return trip. There are definitely plenty of rocks around to climb. I'm glad that I'm not the farmer having to work around them.



Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Screeching Garbage Disposal

It doesn't happen often, so when it does, I have to research the whole process all over again. Yesterday the garbage disposal started screeching. I immediately turned it off to see what the problem was, but couldn't see anything. When I turned it on again, it just hummed. Several years ago this happened and we called a plumber, who promptly turned a knob, dislodged a bunch of carrot peels, and got it working again. Before researching new garbage disposals, I figured I should research where that magical knob was located.

Note: If the unit is plugged in and you hear no sound at all, push the reset button.

It's at the bottom of the unit, in the center. Find a 1/4" allen wrench and wiggle it around. That didn't work at first, but since the YouTube video (found here) said if you hear a hum it's probably just jammed and not broken, I decided to investigate further. There was a piece of metal that didn't look like it belonged - originally I thought it was part of the disposal, but it didn't match the pictures I saw - so I tried harder to dislodge it. Success! Now our disposal is working again.

And now I need to buy a new 1/8" frosting tip!! That should be quite a bit less expensive than a new disposal.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Road Trip 2016 - Kansas and Colorado

Thursday was a long day of driving - 911 miles and 14 1/2 hours - so we didn't really stop to play tourist anywhere. We did find a real A&W Restaurant at lunchtime and I was able to re-live my childhood road trips by enjoying an old-fashioned hamburger and a root beer float.

I'm sure I've driven I-70 before, but maybe not in June, or maybe I was just asleep, but this time Kansas seemed quite beautiful, with more rolling hills than I remembered, and Glenwood Canyon in Colorado was absolutely breath-taking. Since I was driving then, I didn't take any pictures, but I found a couple on the internet so you can see for yourself.



Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Road Trip 2016 - Missouri


Documenting our trip with a selfie at a rest area in Illinois, just before the Missouri border
Rather than driving straight across the country, only stopping for food and gas, we thought we should take the opportunity to actually visit some places in this great land of ours. And since we weren't traveling with the men in our family who prefer to go, go, go, we did just that. Michelle researched possibilities and decided that Forest Park in St. Louis would be a great place to visit. It was.
We had narrowed down the list of what to see to two attractions - the zoo and the art museum, and since we had visited the art museum in Atlanta, we decided to start with the zoo. Once inside we realized that it was extremely crowded and we started second-guessing our decision. However, we were there, so we decided to take a quick trip starting with the River's Edge section.
We did find some animals.
Photographing the hippopatamuses
It was a warm day, but there was plenty of shade, and while it would be a great place to visit with children, we decided that we didn't need to spend our limited time exploring everything the zoo had to offer.
So, we said good-bye to the animals and hurried over to the art museum (which was just a block or so away).
The front, the back, and the new wing (housing modern art)
We arrived at the museum 15 minutes before it closed and learned that you can actually see quite a bit of art in 10 minutes! And even take a couple of pictures.
I took this one in honor of our visit to the original water lily paintings in Paris earlier this year.
Outside there were a few statues to look at as well, and as we walked back to the parking lot, I found two more reminders of Paris or, more correctly, Versailles.
One was a statue of St. Louis (the city St. Louis was named after Louis IX, king of France; Louis XIII started building Versailles) and the other was the view of the beautiful expanse of lawn ending in a fountain. You don't need to travel to Europe to find beauty.
We enjoyed our two-hour layover in St. Louis and I learned that maybe I can get over my anxiety for driving in that city (the freeway system has been greatly improved since our first trip across the country many, many years ago where I missed a left-hand exit and we got lost on the one-way streets down town) and go back for a longer visit some day.