Friday, December 28, 2007

Snowy Winter Morning

What greeted me on my way out the door this morning...




Thursday, December 27, 2007

Christmas Goodies

Just had to share a few things from this year's Christmas haul....

L.L. Bean Wood Carrier (no more putting on a crappy jacket to run out back and get an armload of wood! YIPPEE!!!)
A set of four Pfaltzgraff winterberry desert bowls
The movie "Waitress" (comes with 10 recipe cards for different pies)
A toaster oven (I know, silly to get excited over this, but it means that I don't have to heat up the big oven when I want to reheat something small...like pizza...and lets face it, reheating pizza in the microwave just makes it soggy and gross!)

My mother also knit me a fabulous purple sparkly scarf and made me a quilt...well, she started me a quilt. She still needs to sandwich and stitch it. I just don't have pictures of either of these, yet.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas!

Welcome, Christmas, bring your cheer. Cheer to all Whos far and near. Christmas Day is in our grasp so long as we have hands to clasp. Christmas Day will always be just as long as we have we. Welcome Christmas while we stand, heart to heart and hand in hand.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Bring on the Relaxation!

The last gift is made, the last present has been bought. The house is fairly well clean and what remains is minor - a bit of laundry, a few dishes, bring in a little fire wood. I am a day ahead of schedule! Aside from those minor little things, I just have to make up the annual "Spier Family Gift Basket", since Juli just stopped over with mine (lots of goodies on a platter and an Elvis mug with hot cocoa in it...have I ever told you about the annual Elvis gifts? Oh, that's right, I have. Well my Elvis gift to Juli this year is an Elvis magnet that plays "Suspicious Minds"), which will be delivered tomorrow night, then we will head out to the movies for "P.S. I Love You" (Mmmm...Gerard Butler and Jeffery Dean Morgan - that is my kind of way to kick off the holidays).

Tomorrow, I pack up the four wheel drive sleigh and head for the Lake. Four days of enjoying the season, of sipping hot cocoa and munching Christmas cookies, of watching t.v. specials from my childhood and relaxing...I can't wait!

And just to show off...John's quilt: And the Quilt Shop Room Box for Mum:



I made pretty much everything in this roombox, save for the hutch and the chair. I'm quite proud of it - can't wait for Mum to see it!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Somtimes it Takes a Second Listen

Maybe I was in a mood. Maybe the timing was off. Maybe I just wasn't listening, but the first time I heard Sufjan Stevens...I didn't like him. And every time someone mentioned his Songs for Christmas, my thought was "I don't get it - why do soooo many people love this guy? I mean really - come on!"

Well, I'm here today to admit I was wrong. Yes, I said it and I'll say it again. I was wrong!

Capital W, Capital R, Capital O, Capital N, Capital G!

What changed my mind? Besides yet another blogger writing about their favorite Christmas album? Amazon.com - it was front and center for Christmas related recommendations. I exclaimed to the Universe, "FINE! I GIVE UP! I'LL LISTEN AGAIN! IT'S OBVIOUSLY WHAT YOU WANT!"

So I listened to the brief intro's to each song...then I went to iTunes. I do enjoy his stlye and I liked enough of the songs to justify downloading the whole album.

So I guess sometimes it really does take a second listen.

And here's a little gratuitous cuteness: I often find them sleeping like this - Nym snuggled in close to Sadie, sometimes back to back, sometimes him curled into her belly. This morning he was purring like an engine and kneading her back paw and only occasionally would she wince at the needle sharp claws. She's so good with him.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Gingerbread, We Don't Need No Stinkin' Gingerbread

We've got Rice Krispies Treats! And green food coloring to create a Rice Krispies Treat House (with green rice krispies hedges)
Jess and her tools of construction (LOTS of royal icing, mini M&M's, crushed Oreos and Hershey's Kisses)

We each made a house. This is my final product:
the back:
This was my present to the Senate Majority Office, since they're always such a big help to my office! They loved it, but their Chief won't let them eat it until Friday when all the Senators are in for meeting and have a chance to see it (I told them it will be hard as a rock by Friday...eat it now!)
I also made TONS of cookies for my office-mates

So much more to do...

Friday, December 07, 2007

What Does Your Coffee Mug Say About You?

My favorite coffee mug (that I especially love this time of year) is red and white and has a Gary Larson, Far Side cartoon on it. Santa is on his psychiatrist's couch and says: "It's always cold, the reindeer stink, I'm surrounded by midgets...and to tell you the truth, I've never really liked kids."

I wonder what that says about me? Twisted sense of humor, maybe? I share it with my siblings - we get it from our mother :^)

(and to add to the twisted sense of humor theory: my favorite holiday cartoon)

(click on the cartoon to actually read it)


Off to play Betty Crocker this weekend in a little show called, "Holiday Baking" playing exclusively in my kitchen, to an audience of one (my niece). Mountains o' cookies and Rice Krispies houses, here we come!

High Stakes Dreidel


Hanukkah at Deb's was fantastic, which was good because I was fairly cranky when I got there. I was late leaving work, traffic sucked, I had issues with my truck, issues with the animals, had idiots behind me while driving to Deb's that thought going 10 over the speed limit wasn't fast enough and felt it necessary to ride my bumper all the way to the rotary! And to top it off, I was hungry and when I walked through the door, I had missed the appetizers (hot potato latkes...and I love latkes!). But dinner was good, dessert rocked and I started coming out of my funk by the time they dragged out the dreidel. We started off with penny ante, which I did well at, but before I knew it, we entered a game of "High Stakes" dreidel (5 penny ante) and the competition was fierce! :^)

It was so much fun! When any of us didn't have enough pennies to ante up, we just stole it from our neighbors. It ended up with Greg pitted against Noah (my chief of staff's 10 year old) and a quarter ante - Noah won.

By the time I got home, I felt so much better and come to find out, the room boxes had been delivered! I can start gluing those together tonight and hopefully start the paint/paper/decorate process on Sunday! Yea!!

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Checking Things Off That List Left and Right

Yesterday, I felt like I accomplished so much! I did the ragging of Maddie’s quilt while watching TV. I sandwiched, stitched and turned John’s quilt (no pictures yet, sorry!).

I wrapped some gifts I even took some left over bits from the tree skirt and made a throw pillow slip cover for one of the pillows on the couch!

Oh, I finished the swag for the office mantle, too! Every year, we spend waaaay too much money to have my boss' office decorated for the holiday season (I didn't realize just how much until this morning - lets just say I could pay rent for a month!). A florist comes in, hangs wreaths, does a mantle swag, brings in about 8 poinsettias and a vase of fresh flowers. Last year they went rather skimpy on the decorating. I mean it looked nice, it smelled very Christmasy, but for what they were paid...there wasn't much. So this year, in the spirit of cutting unnecessary expenses from our budget, a few of us decided to pitch in and decorate the office ourselves. I made the swag from greenery cut from my sister's house, pine cones from my neighbor's, cinnamon sticks and red ball ornaments that I had on hand and ribbon that I spent all of $2 on (and it's waaaay better than the one from last year, if I do say so myself). Marcia will be getting poinsettias and Lisa said she'd make us a wreath. If I get ambitious this weekend, I may make up some small wreaths or something to hang on the windows.


You can see in the side by side, last year's Christmas decor and this year's mantle swag. Click on the picture to enlarge it some (and look at the mantle on the left, you'll probably have to squint - skimpy I tell ya!). Wait...that doesn't work - click here.

My office is celebrating Hanukkah at Deb's tonight (I love multicultural holiday celebrations - Hanukkah with Deb, Christmas with my family, Yule on my own!).

Enjoy your Thursday!

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Christmas "To Do" List

I had about a dozen lists going and have finally condensed them. This is what it boils down to:
  1. Clip Maddie's rag quilt
  2. Sandwich, pin and stitch John's quilt
  3. Paint, paper and decorate the two "Quilt Shop" roomboxes (they should be arriving on Thursday or Friday!)
  4. Make 2 headbandanas
  5. Make Rice Krispies houses with Jessica (it's like a gingerbread house, but made out of Rice Krispies Treats - soooooo much better than gingerbread. I'm not a big fan of gingerbread. Oh, and we're doing this on Saturday night, since she's staying over while her parents head to a Christmas party)
  6. Make cookies: chocolate chip, sugar, Hershey's Kiss thumbprints, Reese's Cup and Best Ever Candy Bar Squares
  7. Make decorative paper bags to put cookies in for office
  8. Buy Rick's gift
  9. Buy Dad's last gift (getting tonight)
  10. Wait for Amazon to send the rest of my order
  11. Wrap

This is it...this is what's left. This is so totally do-able by December 22! I can't tell you how much I'm looking forward to those 4 precious days of doing nothing but enjoying the holiday!


(oh, we did get out of work early yesterday! I was able to play in the snow with Sadie, shovel, stitch up the last rice bag and Maddie's quilt. I love snow days!)

Monday, December 03, 2007

Things I Could Be Doing If We Had A Snow Day

Things I could be doing if we had a snow day, or rather a snow half-day (we’ve already got a pool going as to if and when the Governor will close State office buildings):
  1. Finishing Maddie’s quilt – Thirty 12”x12” blocks are done and stitched into rows. Now I just need to stitch the rows together and clip the seam allowances to make it a rag quilt.
  2. Layer and pin John’s quilt
  3. Make seasonal pillow slip covers for the throw pillows on the couch
  4. Bake
  5. Play in the snow with Sadie
  6. Read
  7. Finish the swag of greenery that I’m making for the office mantle
  8. Nap

**********************************

Yesterday, I did make myself the tree skirt that I’ve been wanting. And I did it without a pattern. I love those kind of projects, especially when they turn out really well!
As you can see, it has been Nymmie tested...

and approved.

Let It Snow!

Call me crazy, but I love walking the dog at 5:30 in the morning, in the snow. I love it almost as much as the Sunday morning walks, when the streets are practically empty. But in the snow, there’s this romance; just me, Sadie and the soft sound of falling snow. The only light, the golden glow of street lamps. Bundled up tight in winter-wear, I feel like a kid again.

It’s complete solitude (save for the occasional snow plow). The side streets are the best, because they’re the last to be plowed, so no early morning drivers chance them.

Its funny how walking in the sweltering heat, freezing cold or pounding rain is a chore, but taking a walk in the snow is fun. Go fig.

This was the morning commute:

Pictures from my office:

Now if only the Governor would close State office buildings, I'd be doing the happy happy dance of joy.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Back in Business

The Janome, she squeaks no more! Whoo-hoo! Sewing machine oil must have supreme magical abilities to take care of a squeal that bad. I was able to finish 9 blocks on Maddie's quilt last night and start another 6 (it has thirty 12"x 12" blocks). So I'm back in business with the Christmas present making!

Oh, and for the first time in my life, I decided to buy something that I had intended to make myself. I had planned to make the actual boxes for my mother and aunt's Quilt Shop roomboxes. I even made a "first attempt" to make sure that I could actually make it; it came out cute, but a bit small. So I have ordered 2 roombox shells that I will paint and decorate myself.


I almost never do that...whether it be pants or a quilt or a shelf, whatever, if I could possibly make it, then I won't buy it from a store/online. When I told this to Juli, she damned near had heart failure. During our conversation, she kept saying things like, "Now wait, tell me again - you're BUYING something that you could MAKE, but you're not going to MAKE it. You're going to BUY it. Do I have this right?" If we hadn't been on the phone, I would have kicked her!


But the best part about ordering them is that I paid less for two of them, pre-made and with shipping and handling, than I would have if I made them myself (gas to drive to Home Depot and back home, cost of MDF, cost of glue and then there's the time and effort).


Last year, I was working on Christmas gifts right up to Christmas and realized that I didn’t relax and just enjoy the holiday season. So this year, I've made a conscious decision to finish the Christmas present shopping/making early and spend time stress-free. Come December 22, I will be done with everything; done with gifts, done with baking, done with decorating, done with wrapping said gifts. I just want to sit back and relax, eat some sugar cookies, drink a cup a tea, read a book and watch Christmas shows. For those four days (from the 22nd, when I leave for Mum & Dad's till Christmas), there will be no lists, no pressing matters, no worries, no thoughts other than enjoying those 4 days (then it's back to work, to a totally empty office, on 26th). The house will be cleaned before I leave, the laundry will be done and ironed for work. It's not a goal or an intention...it's a plan, set in stone, that I will bust my ass to make happen.


Happy Friday!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

What the Hell!?!

I got three square stitched on Maddie's quilt last night and my sewing machine started to squeal. I greased it up (something I just did not too long ago...maybe it's from stitching through all that fleece) and it's still squealing.

This is not the time for my machine to die on me!

Yes, I can steal my mother's old Kenmore, but that's not the point...it's not my machine with the electronic stitch controller and the needle threader, the automatic button-holer and the push button stop.

I'm praying that the oil will seep into all the squeaky parts and when I go home, it will be miraculously better and I can continue with sewing as usual. But dread is sitting in the pit of my stomach (never a good sign).

Keep your fingers crossed for me!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Ugh

I don’t know why I do this to myself; I get these grandiose plans in my head of all the great things I’m going to make and bake for people for Christmas and then it comes down to crunch time and I lose all sense of where I am, what I’m doing and I don’t take anytime to just enjoy myself.

I’ve started culling through the Bloglines list of unread posts (78 left to go!) and catching up with everyone’s lives, art, etc. and I feel…scattered; like I should be doing so much more and so much less at the same time. I squirrel myself away in my house and putter without getting anything done it seems, rather than completing a task that has a deadline (Christmas). The worst part is that I really don’t have much to do; it’s just that I can’t seem to focus (hence scattered). I’m watching the time tick past, rather than actually occupying it with something fruitful.

When I feel frustrated like this, because I’m not getting the things done that I want done in the timeframe that I want, writing down those frustrations helps. Clears my head, helps me get things in order, like my lists. Right now I have several going: the list of domestic chores (vacuum, dishes, laundry, decorate the tree), the list of fabric things to be made (quilts, headbandanas, fabric sacks, rice bags), the grocery list (sugar, flour, milk, eggs, etc. etc.), the baking list (sugar cookies, rice crispy houses, best ever candy cookie bars), the list of times and dates and locations of the coming holiday events (Dec. 6 = Hanukkah party at Deb’s, Dec. 11 = Marcia’s 50th, Dec. 20 = potluck staff holiday party at Michael’s).

I need to get organized. I think that may be the root of my scatteredness. I feel like I’m living amid a pile of things; Christmas decoration boxes, unpainted shelves, UFP (UnFinished Projects) and too much cluttery crap that I don’t use. I feel like I need to pare down, you know, get rid of that crap that I don’t use…hey this sounds familiar…oh wait, that’s because I ranted about this last December – feeling scattered, needing to organize, needing to declutter my house and my life – did I declutter? Uh…no. What is my problem with letting things go? With really organizing? With finishing projects? Am I that attention deficit? Can sentimental reasons alone save a vase that I’ve never used from the Goodwill pile? Honestly?

Well, thanks for listening. Oh, before I leave you…on a completely unrelated (but musical) note: I’m falling in love with the voice Nathan Rogers. He is the son of Canadian folk singer, Stan Rogers and he just has that voice, a mirror to Stan Rogers but all his own at the same time. A little rough and grumbly, but sweetly evocative. Give a listen, if you’re so inclined.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Post Turkey Day

I was just thinking that I haven’t visited my favorite blogs in quite some time and thought that maybe today, during the down time, I would catch up…until I checked my Bloglines and found 310 blog posts unread! THREE HUNDRED AND TEN!

I didn’t realize that it had been almost a month since I really checked up on all of you, despite posting on my own blog. It just seems like so much has been happening at work and trying to get the homemade gifts done, that I’ve been neglecting everyone else’s blogs. I’m very sorry for that, but I have this sinking feeling that when my new job officially starts, I’ll be here less and less…

Note to self: make time for blog reading and writing

That being said and apologized for…things are good! Thanksgiving was nice, albeit hung-over, having spent the previous night with my brother and my cousin over-indulging at Schooner Landing in Damariscotta. The day after turkey day was spent lazily, eating leftovers and watching TV in the jammies, despite the plan to trek out to early morning Black Friday sales…yeah, as of 8:00 the night before, we knew that wasn’t happening!

I have partaken in Cyber Monday, though…but only on Amazon…and only because I HATE (yes, I know hate is a strong word, but it really applies here) holiday shopping. With shoppers and drivers, manners seem to be optional come the holiday season and respect has flown RIGHT out the window! I try to be pleasant and courteous, but I become the biggest grouch if I have to go shopping AT ALL from Thanksgiving to New Years, because people block isles with their carts or cut you off in parking lots or ride your ass on the road because they don’t feel you are going fast enough despite the fact that you’re driving 10 miles over the speed limit! Okay, just thinking about it is making me cranky…I’ll stop. Thankfully, I have only 4 more things to buy and shopping is done. I still have 3 quilts to finish, 2 headbandana’s to make and a bunch of baking to do, but that doesn’t require leaving the warmth of my fortress of solitude!

Being the purveyor of holiday cheer that I normally am this time of year (except when forced to go Christmas shopping), my tree went up on Saturday and the house decorating commenced.

The kitten (being new to this whole Christmas thing) looooves the tree – it’s great for hiding under and playing with…but mostly for hiding under, especially for those moments when the urge to jump out and attack a passerby strikes!

His evil 13 lb counterpart feels the same way, but she jumps out only to attack him (she knows better than to attack me!)

Well, I'm off to an office celebration at Deb's house! Have a lovely evening!