Merry, Merry!

Today was wonderful*.  It was very nice having all my chicks and grand-chicks under one roof for the holidays. 
Santa presents.
Christmas decorations, before bedlam erupted.
Present opening frenzy, complete with spectators and paparazzi. I love the energy in this picture.
PopPop, helping Leanne open her pencils.
Pretty Naia, age 11.
Leia, age 4.
Leanne, age 22 months, still agog at the wonder of Christmas. And one of the best presents of the day -
this was Marie's Strawberry Shortcake house, that she received when she was just a bit older than Leanne and that PopPop carefully stored in the attic since Marie outgrew it many years ago. After a good, looooong scrubbing by PopPop and Auntie Rachel, it was successfully passed down. Leanne looks pretty happy with the deal. 

Edited to add pictures that Scott and Marie took.
Addison, opening her presents.

Hubby with one of his gifts.
My gift from Matt and Mary.
Proof that Leanne does occasionally let Uncle Matt hold her.

*If you don't count the cold I'm getting or the kink in Rachel's neck that keeps her from moving her head at all. Bah humbug.


Let The Holidays Begin

Now that Rachel, John and Addy are here, it feels like the holidays have finally begun. Here's our day - and the previous night - in quick pix...

Leanne rocked her sunglasses

then carefully placed them on the Christmas tree, because that's where important things go this time of year.

We checked out the local Candy Cane Lane, where the hit - for us at least - was a bit non-traditional.

Today, while the guys checked out the battleship USS Iowa,

we girls started a new family tradition of making tamales at Breanne's house.

And may I just say, they are the best tamales e.v.e.r.
The little girls enjoyed playing with Travis's toys,

while the handsome Mr. T enjoyed all the attention he got from Auntie Rachel
and grandma. Such a sweet cuddle boy!
Tomorrow, we're off to Disneyland. Hope the rain holds off until Monday, but if it doesn't, at least Disneyland will be less crowded. In theory, anyway.

Merry almost-Christmas!



Christmas Program

When I picked Leia up from preschool today, she was not happy about returning in less than 2 hours for her holiday program. But then I mentioned that she got to go on up stage . . .  and suddenly she could.not.wait for it to be time to go. 
At program's end, the kids got to stay on stage so parents could take pictures. Leia finagled 'Baby Jesus' away from 'Mary' and used him as a prop. Think she might be just a bit of a ham?
In the videos, Leia is the first angel to the right of the manger. First song is "Glory to God"; second is "Baby Jesus, We Love You". 


Fabric Burritos

First, you make one looooong burrito. 
Or five, if you're on a mission. 
See the stuffing?
Then you sew a few seams, and presto change-o, pillowcases! 
I love making these. So fast and fun; a lot of bang for a bit of fabric and thread. And even better, all this fabric was already in my stash, either given to me or picked up from the remnant rack at Joann's.
These have all gone to a new home. A friend organized a sew-in for tomorrow, to make pillowcases for servicemen and women, but since I can't be there, I gave these to her last night. Hope they bring cheer and holiday joy to five young people far from home.  



I couldn't resist taking this video of Leia at gymnastics today. She was a bit hesitant when walking a narrow beam earlier in class, but give her a tumbling mat and she's fearless. 

 Sorry about the annoying cellphone dad in the background. We were there for an hour and he never.stopped.talking. Oh well, at least his voice wasn't high-pitched and whinny.  


Cookie Season

Leia and I were going to cut out sugar cookies tonight, but . . . yeah, lot of work, lot of waiting and neither of us has much patience. We went instead with dropping spoonfuls of dough on cookie sheets and decorating the round-ish results.
Since I couldn't find my cookie recipes (see 'kitchen under construction' below), I used this one for the cookies and this one for the icing. Cookies were kind of bland - will add more sugar and vanilla next time - but the icing was fantastic. Never thought about including corn syrup before.
Leia was a little disappointed that she couldn't use the new cookie cutters, but she got over it pretty quick when I told her she could shake 'glitter' on top of the icing. Some of these have more sprinkles than icing - almost more sprinkles than cookie - but she's happy, so I'm happy.
The recipe says it makes 5 dozen; that would have been about right if I hadn't burnt one pan. And I bet all of these are gone by morning; youngest son and his buddies love sugar cookies. 


Holiday Concert

Friends invited us to a LeAnn Rimes concert tonight and, boy oh boy, am I glad we went.

I'm not much of a country music fan, so hubby and I haven't listened to many of her songs since she hit it big about 18 years ago. But we are both converts after tonight.

What an incredible voice! Recordings just don't do it justice.

I hit the iTunes store after we got home, hoping to download some of the carols she sang in concert, but the only ones they have are older versions (2003/2004) and after hearing her tonight, they just won't do.

Now I wish I'd recorded the concert on my cell phone, like a lot of people around us were doing. Wonder if they've posted to YouTube yet. . .


Let There Be Light!

Hubby is very handy and can handle most household remodels or repairs, but when it comes to electricity and plumbing I won't let him he prefers to call the pros.

Today's pro project was lighting for the kitchen, a remodel project that's been on-again off-again for awhile, too often getting pushed aside for other, less-involved projects or problems. But tonight, instead of just the one small light over the sink (in the background), we now have hanging lights over the (soon to be rebuilt) bar;
track lights illuminating the (soon to be rebuilt) pantry, cabinet and oven;
and built-in low-voltage lights for the remaining (say it with me - "soon to be rebuilt") kitchen areas.
And by this time next week? I should have a brand new, hand-crafted, hubby-built cherry cabinet to hold my new stove-top, along with the first set of new cabinets around the oven and under the track lights. Sooooooo excited!



I was finally able to block and photograph Rachel's infinity scarf the day before we left Colorado.
Addy helped me pin/unpin the scarf for blocking (sticking pins through the scarf and into the carpet was her favorite part, although she did worry about them leaving holes and daddy getting mad at us) and served as both my model and measuring stick.
The pattern is a variation on the ripple stitch - actually, two variations.
I couldn't decide which I liked better, so did each half of the scarf a different way. After blocking, I have a definite preference, and it's not the pattern I thought I'd like best.
I plan to write the pattern up shortly and will probably make it available on Ravelry, something I haven't done in awhile. It will also be a class at my favorite yarn shop, probably in February. Hope potential students like it as much as Rach and I do.   

Fred and Ethel

While we were in Colorado, Rachel asked me to help decorate Fred and Ethel, the metal flamingos her co-worker brought home from a trip to visit family in the mid-west. 
Fred was easy - a store-bought Santa hat.

Ethel needed something a bit more feminine, more exciting and upscale. Something like a handmade sparkly red pompom scarf.
Isn't she stunning?


Christmas Cactus

Christmas cactus is one of my favorite plants - probably because it's so hardy, even I can keep it alive for years - so when I saw a class at my favorite quilt shop featuring this design, I had to sign up.
We completed one set of 4 paper-pieced blocks in class. Now I need to decide how to finish this - make 4 additional blocks, as pictured in the book;
set it on point, add a series of borders and call it good;
or set it square, add a couple of blocks - like the 2-parter above - on top and bottom, and border it. 

Think I'll sleep on it. Opinions welcome!