Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Cough. Cough.

I don't know how Todd can keep his hands off me--I'm hacking up virulent plague germs, I reek of Vicks Vap-O-Rub, and I'm all bleary-eyed and snotty. Nothing like being sick to make you feel really sexy! I'm all gooey from the Vap-O-Rub, too...mmmmm baby!

Still not better, but as long as I'm not coughing I feel okay. It's the coughing that's killing me; I've pulled a muscle in my neck and shoulder and my ribs are sore.

I have so much stuff I want to do...organize my craft room and my kitchen, finish my Christmas journal, rip a bunch of CDs--I never got to make it to any post-holiday sales, pout. And I need to take down my tree and find some ornament storage boxes. And the baseboards need dusting and the carpets need vacuuming. And the laundry. And the clutter. And my suitcase needs unpacked. Urgh. It's frustrating. My big accomplishment today was making it to the grocery store so we'll have food for the long weekend.

Ah well. I'm warm and comfy and I have soup, cocoa, and medicine. I'm not so bad off, right?

Monday, December 29, 2008

Home. Sick.

Well, I was having a really nice Christmas vacation till I woke up with a sore throat on Christmas morning, which was a full-blown chest cold by Friday morning. Then I spent the next couple days all alone on the couch at my in-laws' house at the lake, coughing, and missing lunch with my cousins and aunt, and also missing my sister-in-law Julie's visit with my niece and nephew, whom I only get to see twice a year.

By Sunday morning, I just wanted to be at home. It's so much easier to be sick in your own house. So we left a day early, missing my extended family's get-together and my cousin Pam's announcement of her engagement and my cousin Janine's announcement of her pregnancy. I hate missing out on stuff--I already feel like I miss out on so much, living so far away, and then to be sick for half of my trip...I was feeling pretty sad and sorry on Friday and Saturday, I can tell you.

There were a couple of silver linings:

-Since my in-laws now own two homes, I had a place to sit and be sick in peace and quiet, which was
such a blessing, since every other place I could have stayed was full of people and kids.
-When you're sick, everybody's so sweet and concerned about you. It made me feel very loved, which I knew I was anyway, but it's nice to be reminded.
-Leaving early meant we were driving across rural Maryland and rural Virginia in the dark and got to enjoy a beautiful sky full of stars, not something I see much in light-polluted Hampton Roads.

That's all the silver linings I can think of, though! Well, it was probably a good thing that we left Sunday afternoon...I have been coughing worse than ever today and that would have been hard in the car. I was able to keep the coughing mostly under control on the way home with Mucinex, but today the Mucinex only seems to help for a short while, and then it's back to coughing again. I am so over the coughing!

When I was a kid, June Allyson used to do these commercials for female incontinence pads, and I used to think how horrible it would be to get so old you couldn't hold your own pee. Now I know how horrible it is--when I cough, there ain't no holding it, and it's just run, run, run to the bathroom all night long, which is exhausting in and of itself, besides the coughing.

To get through the nine-hour drive back to Virginia, I broke down and bought some of those old-lady pads, and what a help they were. And still are, as I continue to cough-and-pee. So I learned a new cold coping skill, too. I guess that's a good thing...

I had a nice time before the cold, though--my mom and I did a little shopping and had lunch on Monday and I looked through a bunch of old family photos with my dad. Tuesday we took my nephew Tanner and niece Kylie to Pittsburgh and had an absolute blast with them. They are eleven and seven years old, and exactly the right age to really enjoy stuff with. And Christmas itself wasn't so bad--I was feeling under the weather at that point, but not flat-out sick, and we had fun opening presents and having dinner. Got to spend a couple really nice evenings with my in-laws, too. So it wasn't all bad.

I was feeling pretty good this evening; the Mucinex and Vicks Vap-o-Rub were working and Todd brought me home chicken in garlic sauce and hot-and-sour soup, and I was reviving...and now I'm back to the uncontrollable coughing again. Oh well. I feel like I might have passed the worst of it. I hope so.

Hope everybody else had a happy and HEALTHY Christmas!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Up, up and away.

Well, we are getting ready to pack up and hitch up the sleigh tomorrow morning and head for warm, balmy Ohio, where it's currently snowing and about 20 degrees. I'm actually excited at the thought of seeing some snow, although I know there are plenty of people across the country who would smack me for saying that! I know Todd and I are going to freeze--our blood gets thinner every year we spend in the southlands.

I'm just sitting here waiting for Todd to get out of the bathroom so I can go in and get prettied up for his office party. The house is all cleaned up except for the vacuuming, all the presents are wrapped, and my suitcase is packed with everything but the last-minute stuff. I have the past few days' Christmas journal entries about half done, so I'll have to finish and post them when I get back. I'm really going to try and get them done even though Christmas will be over, and not put them off till November like I did last/this year!

I hope everyone who stops in at this blog has a really wonderful Christmas, safe travels, good times, and at least a moment or two of peace and calm to think about the meaning of the season, whatever that meaning is for you.

I'll sign off with one last picture...is there anything happier than a Christmas tree with lots of presents underneath? Seems a shame to pack them all up and leave the poor guy all naked down below.

Have a merry Christmas!

Friday, December 19, 2008

My favorite rooms.

I was sitting at the kitchen table after eating my Crispix this morning, having a cup of tea and surfing the net while waiting for my dryer load to finish, and I just looked around and thought how much I like this part of my house.

On the ground floor, we have the living room and entryway and stairs on the front side of the house, and the kitchen/dining room and a small half-bath on the back side of the house. The kitchen and dining room are my favorite rooms in the house, or maybe I should just say "room"
since it's just one big area.

On a gray day like today, it's especially warm-feeling, with the bright lights and the green walls. And I can sit and look out the back doors at the trees.

Or I can look the other way at my messy table and desk.


It's not fancy, but it's comfortable and warm. And I like all my stuff.

I am actually enjoying a smidgen of down time today because I've gotten so much done this week. (Patting self on back here.) Today is laundry and cleaning out the fridge and getting the downstairs tidied up, and going out for a farewell bash for one of Todd's co-workers tonight. Tomorrow is packing, getting the upstairs tidied up, and vacuuming, and then going to Todd's office party. And then Sunday morning we're off to Ohio. So it's nice to have a little patch of time where I can just enjoy being at home.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Yesterday's and today's journal entries:

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

My favorite raincheck.

About ten years ago, this commercial was playing on TV a lot, probably around Christmastime.

And it never fails to make me laugh out loud every single time, even a lousy copy like this. I actually have a copy of it on one of my old videotapes of MST3K--I usually edited out the commercials when I taped them, but I HAD to leave that commercial in! That kid is adorable.

I thought of it tonight when we went off to Michael's to see if Santa could get me a Cuttlebug for Christmas at 50% off, but had to settle for a raincheck. Santa said he would wrap it up in a fancy envelope for me. Chuh. Maybe I should frolic about with it and snuggle it close like the kid in the commercial!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

More pages.

Isn't it funny how you start December feeling sort of on top of things, and then get busier and crazier as the days go by? Or does that just happen to me?

It's not really all that crazy here, but we're both quite busy getting last-min
ute gifts made and that sort of thing. We're heading to Ohio on the 21st (we decided to stay for Todd's office party on the 20th after all) so everything has to be bought, created, wrapped, and packed by then--it's always a bit of a crunch at the end when you have four or five or six days lopped off of your Christmas prep time.

I sat down for a little while this morning and got the past three days' worth of Christmas journaling done, though.

We went up to Williamsburg on Sunday to get one last gift, and stopped off at Merchants Square downtown to see a performance of "A Christmas Carol" that I'd heard about. It was a one-man (well, one man plus a stage manager named Bob), 15-minute version, performed by an actor named Ed Whitacre on a tiny set built into what looked like a little moving trailer. First he came out and explained the show, sort of like a circus barker...

And then he became Scrooge and acted out the story with the help of some strategically placed props. See that little table he's about to fall asleep on?

With a little flip, the table top comes off and becomes the ghost of Jacob Marley!

The ghost of Christmas Past came out of Scrooge's bathrobe pocket...the ghost of Christmas Present was a puppet that emerged from the picture above the fireplace:

And the ghost of Christmas Yet-to-Come was a long skeleton arm that emerged from the backstage door and then pushed out Scrooge's tombstone from within the fireplace.

It was all very clever, very broadly played, with some audience participation to keep the kids interested...I really enjoyed it. Of course, I love the story of "A Christmas Carol," and even though it was a condensed version, it hit all the important bits, especially the part about getting a second chance to start over, as Ed-the-actor runs out of time when the stage manager's stopwatch hits 15 minutes before the end of the show. Ed falls into despair, but Bob the stage manager perks him up with a chorus of "The Sun'll Come Out Tomorrow" and Ed leaps back into the show just in time to show Scrooge's wonderful awakening on Christmas morning. Very entertaining!

Okay, I'm off to get a few more things crossed off my to do list. See ya!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Here is Day 13, and then Day 10's entry, too...I finally got enough presents wrapped to take a nice picture.

I want to say...in case anybody happens to look at this journal and think it looks too time-consuming to do at Christmastime, it's really not. Or it doesn't have to be. I have a big pile of the papers and embellishments I picked out for this, and I just grab a couple things, slap them down, maybe rub a little ink around the edges, and call it good. It took me less than fifteen minutes to do today's entry, and that included printing out the photo.

Doing a small book (mine is 5x7" this year) and minimal journaling helps keep it fast. Next year, though, I am planning to do a lot more writing, so that will take more time. But it really has helped to make the lead-up to Christmas more special and fun for me. I've never really bought into the rush-rush, drive-yourself-crazy part of Christmas anyway, but I do get my sad or anxious or overwhelmed moments, and this journal helps keep me focused and calm. It was wonderful of Shimelle to come up with this idea and to generously leave the class open every year to those who have taken it before. The camaraderie on the forums with other people from all over the world is an added bonus!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Here's Day 12--pretty stripped down compared to yesterday!

I really want to do some Christmas baking, but I don't know who would eat it. Maybe I'll bake some stuff and send some of it to work with Todd next week...I am dying for mince tarts and fruitcake, but I think I'm the only person who would eat either one. Plus fruits and nuts are SUPER expensive this year, like everything else. Ho hum, what to do?

Meanwhile, my Christmas shopping is almost done, just one more thing to pick up, and the cards are almost all done and sent, too. And it doesn't look like we'll be going to Todd's office party, so no need to dredge up something festive to wear to that. They finally sent out invitations yesterday for a party on the 20th--good planning, that. A lot of people aren't going to be able to make it...should be a dull party, especially since the caterer doesn't have a liquor license. Most of the fun of Todd's office parties stems from the quantities of alcohol imbibed!

Anyway, we'll be en route to Ohio that day, so we won't be going, either. Ah well! So what remains on my Christmas to-do list is making a few last gifts and getting it all wrapped. I'm feeling pretty much on top of things, at least for the moment. How about you?

Thursday, December 11, 2008

I've got my page for today done, but yesterday's is still awaiting a picture. The page for today looks a little demented, I think--I was trying to get a lot of things on there that don't match each other, but, oh well!

I went out and did a little holiday shopping today and it's craaaazzzy out there! I'm so glad I did 90% of my shopping online! The mall was jammed at 1:00 in the middle of a weekday afternoon--don't people have jobs anymore? Or are they all lazy good-for-nothings like me?

It was about 70 degrees and rainy, too, so all the stores were very overheated and the floors were wet and slippery. I have had the worst head-, tooth-, and jaw-ache this week from the pressure of this weather system going over us. Hopefully, hopefully, tomorrow it will be gone and we'll go back to clear and cold and this 800-pound fat man crushing my face will go back where he came from. 'Cause I'm losing my mojo in a big way right now...I just want to sit and stare out the window!

Tuesday, December 09, 2008


I got a little behind on my journal--we've been busy and I've been tired! Here are days 7, 8, and 9. Day 7 has a few things blurred out on the "to do" list for secrecy's sake!

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Steamed and pressed.

I hate to iron. Lord, how I hate it!

Wouldn't it be nice if men's shirts came with a tag that said, "WARNING: Although this shirt looks perfectly wonderful hanging on this hangar, it has been constructed in such a way that the minute it is exposed to a washer and dryer, it will immediately curl into a tight, wrinkled ball of Rubik's Cube-ian impossibility. At that point, it will vanish into the depths of your closet, never to emerge until your semi-yearly clean-out at which point it will proceed directly to the nearest charity thrift shop. So don't waste your money!"

Because you can't tell. You just can't tell! We've bought 100% cotton, we've bought cotton/synthetic blends, we've bought cheap shirts, we've bought expensive shirts, and there is absolutely no way to determine which ones will be wonderfully wrinkle-free and which ones will, well, not.

My home economics training was sadly lacking on all counts, but never more than in the ironing department. I had a toy ironing board and a little iron, but somehow that early indoctrination failed to translate into real-world expertise.

I know my mom ironed, and I can remember ironing a few skirts and dresses in high school and college when I absolutely had to (in college, on the floor on a folded towel, as I recall), but I never learned how to iron a man's shirt. I guess that's because my dad's good shirts all originated in the Era of Polyester, also known as the 70's. They were made of the same indestructible substance as his sport jackets and dress pants, which not only never needed ironing, they could simply be hosed off when a stain occurred, as the plastic fibers were impermeable to liquids of all kinds.

Now I have a husband who works a white-collar job that sadly does not require white collars, which could just be sent out to the dry cleaners. His casual-dress job calls for Dockers and casual long-sleeve dress shirts in plaids and dark solids, hardly worth a dry cleaner trip and fee.

So after two weeks of dawdling, I finally ironed the shirts that have been draped across the chest at the end of our bed. And they honestly don't look any better. I try re-tumbling them in the dryer, sometimes with a damp washcloth, but as our dryer is responsible for much of the wrinkling because it's a small stackable, that doesn't really do any good. And it doesn't help those awful buttonhole strips on the front at all. Why do they always, always wrinkle up like the ruffles on a pirate shirt? Some of Todd's shirts don't wrinkle one little bit, except for the buttonhole part. Why???

I always burn myself at least once, too, which doesn't endear me to the job at all.
And I can't figure out how to iron sleeves, or that flat part across the upper back.

We've managed to get our wardrobes to the point where they need virtually no ironing, but every now and then a wrinkly shirt sneaks through. I'm always hearing about people who iron sheets and underwear and I cannot fathom the depths of boredom a person would have to sink to to consider that a worthy pastime.

So now Todd's ironed shirts hang neatly in his closet. He's not allowed to wear them ever again.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

JYC Dec. 6

I always have a hard time with this topic--journaling about a good Christmas memory and a bad Christmas memory. The fact is, most of my Christmases have been great, and the ones that haven't--well, I don't want to re-visit them in a happy book! Bad memories are a little too personal and complex to share in two square inches of space.

Here's the picture full-size...it seems a shame to print them out at 2x3" but I wouldn't be able to fit anything else on the page if I printed them bigger.

I took the picture at a local church the other day...I was driving past and saw that their lampposts looked very Dickensian. Very Tim Holtz-ian, too--he did this gorgeous tag on his blog with a lamppost stamp a few days ago.

I don't have a Tim Holtz fetish, I swear...I simply want every product he has designed and a huge craft room to house it all. Is that a fetish? I certainly seem to be mentioning him a lot lately.

Todd is out searching the rivers for stripers and I am home with my little cold. Not really a full-blown cold, just this sore throat and headache that won't go away. I like being home on chilly evenings--much better than shivering in a kayak on the freezing water. Although the way Todd dresses for the cold, I think he'll be okay. It's like watching a climber suit up for Everest, with all the clothes he lays out!

Hope everybody's having a peaceful weekend!

***I'm dropping back in here...I just found out my brother-in-law Ky's dad passed away this morning. It was not unexpected, he's been very, very sick for several weeks and was at home with hospice care. But it's very sad for Ky and his family, for my sister Jenita, and for my nephew Tanner and niece Kylie who loved their grandpa. This is a stressful time for them all (and my sister has her college final exams this week) and a sad time, too...I know they could all use prayers and good thoughts. Thanks. ***

Friday, December 05, 2008

Day 5.

Here's my journal page, about Advent:

And here's the picture I used, full-size, just because I liked how it came out:

And here's the quote, of which I only had room to use a bit on the page:

"The season of Advent means there is something on the horizon the likes of which we have never seen before…What is possible is to not see it, to miss it, to turn just as it brushes past you. And you begin to grasp what it was you missed, like Moses in the cleft of the rock, watching God's [back] fade in the distance. So stay. Sit. Linger. Tarry. Ponder. Wait. Behold. Wonder. There will be time enough for running. For rushing. For worrying. For pushing. For now, stay. Wait. Something is on the horizon." -Jan L. Richardson, Night Visions: Searching the Shadows of Advent and Christmas. (Zowie, that's expensive on Amazon!)

I really like that quote. It reminds me of this story in Miracle and Other Christmas Stories, by Connie Willis (which I recommend all the time to anyone who will listen) called "Epiphany," which is about Jesus' second coming and unlike anything I've ever read on the topic before. It's hard to describe, but it has the same shadowy, dark, expectant feeling as the quote.

One of the things I like about this time of year is the early dark and the lights shining through it. The dark seems to fit with that mood of waiting, wondering, expecting.

It's been a quiet week here (in Lake Wobegon...no, no, that's not right...)--I've been turning in early nights, with a book, and nursing a sore throat and headache that seem to come and go and not develop into anything. Also making out Christmas cards, wrapping presents, etc. Todd had jury duty on Monday and a very distasteful incest/rape case (as he said, "Why couldn't I get a nice, easy cocaine possession?") and other than that, he's been waiting for the chance to go night fishing when the tides and winds are right. He went last night and came home with a few more big striped bass, one of which we'll be having for dinner tonight, yum.

And it's coooold! (Yay!) That's it from here.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Day 4.

For each day's prompt in this "Journal Your Christmas" class, Shimelle creates a PDF file with pictures and lots of ideas. She's using various pages from people who've taken her class in previous years, and I was startled to find today that she used my December 4 page from last year as one of her idea samples! Made me smile!

Here's today's page. I used to have big ideas about what a perfect Christmas consisted of, and now I know that all I need to make it perfect is TIME. Which is always at a premium when we're home visiting.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Play it, Sam...

Your result for Are You a Jackie or a Marilyn? Or Someone Else? Mad Men-era Female Icon Quiz ...

You Are an Ingrid!


You are an Ingrid -- "I am unique"

Ingrids have sensitive feelings and are warm and perceptive.

How to Get Along with Me
  • * Give me plenty of compliments. They mean a lot to me.
  • * Be a supportive friend or partner. Help me to learn to love and value myself.
  • * Respect me for my special gifts of intuition and vision.
  • * Though I don't always want to be cheered up when I'm feeling melancholy, I sometimes like to have someone lighten me up a little.
  • * Don't tell me I'm too sensitive or that I'm overreacting!

What I Like About Being an Ingrid

  • * my ability to find meaning in life and to experience feeling at a deep level
  • * my ability to establish warm connections with people
  • * admiring what is noble, truthful, and beautiful in life
  • * my creativity, intuition, and sense of humor
  • * being unique and being seen as unique by others
  • * having aesthetic sensibilities
  • * being able to easily pick up the feelings of people around me

What's Hard About Being an Ingrid

  • * experiencing dark moods of emptiness and despair
  • * feelings of self-hatred and shame; believing I don't deserve to be loved
  • * feeling guilty when I disappoint people
  • * feeling hurt or attacked when someone misundertands me
  • * expecting too much from myself and life
  • * fearing being abandoned
  • * obsessing over resentments
  • * longing for what I don't have

Ingrids as Children Often

  • * have active imaginations: play creatively alone or organize playmates in original games
  • * are very sensitive
  • * feel that they don't fit in
  • * believe they are missing something that other people have
  • * attach themselves to idealized teachers, heroes, artists, etc.
  • * become antiauthoritarian or rebellious when criticized or not understood
  • * feel lonely or abandoned (perhaps as a result of a death or their parents' divorce)

Ingrids as Parents

  • * help their children become who they really are
  • * support their children's creativity and originality
  • * are good at helping their children get in touch with their feelings
  • * are sometimes overly critical or overly protective
  • * are usually very good with children if not too self-absorbed
Here's day three's page:

And here's the cover:

See ya later!

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

One more thing.

Here's the December 2 journal page. I'm not feeling it yet, but maybe I'll get into the groove with it soon.

Look at the crappy writing on that sticker. I love Jenni Bowlin stuff, but her journaling stickers are the pits. You HAVE to use a Sharpie, and of course, I can never remember that until I'm already well into my writing and it's all beaded up and nasty-looking. One of those little annoyances!

More stuff.

Just a few more of the Christmas cards I made last week. I moved to a blue/brown color scheme for most of these.

Now I think I'm done. I made 72 Christmas cards and had a really fun time with it. Now it's time to move on to some of my other holiday tasks!

I may end up keeping a few of my favorites...here's what I did with some of them:


Here's day one of my Journal Your Christmas book. It's a 5x7" Tim Holtz book.

I was really gonna try to break away from the "aged/vintage" look this year, but last year's book was one of my favorite things I've ever done. I think vintage is just "me," especially at Christmas. Besides, I'm addicted to those Tim Holtz distress inks that make everything look old and mussed up (plus they cover a multitude of mistakes!)

More later.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Dropping in...

...to say hurray for December 1 and the start of Shimelle Laine's "Journal Your Christmas" class! I've done it in previous years, and I'm going to try it again, although I'm way behind getting started because of our holiday travels and projects.

But I'm excited to do it again...this little project has sort of rescued Christmas for me, after a number of years of sad memories and bad attitudes on my part.

We had a super time with my brother and sister-in-law and our bright and beautiful nieces over the weekend...I'll post a couple of pictures when I get a chance. Right now I am consumed with getting caught back up with daily life after our five-day weekend! Laundry, groceries, picking up the messiness...all very exciting stuff.

I'll be back!