Saturday, January 31, 2009

Saturday doings.

Yesterday I sat down and made my Valentine's Day cards for the nephews and nieces. I found these great papers at the scrapbook store--it's a line called Splendid by Fancy Pants.

The one paper in the set has 12 small valentine images on it that you can cut out and either use for school exchanges or glitter up and put on a bigger card. I did the latter.

I just think they are SO CUTE.

We went down to Portsmouth today and had lunch, and stopped in at The Queen Bee, which is a small but wonderful antique store right across the street from the Biergarten, our favorite purveyor of knockwurst and German potato salad. The woman who runs The Queen Bee seems to have the exact same taste as me, because her store is loaded with old china, vintage hankies and pins, old kitchen doodads, etc. And her prices are very fair. Some things are expensive, but it's because they're rare and in perfect condition. And the things that aren't so rare or perfect are nicely affordable. I can live with that. What annoys me is when I see a dealer trying to sell some chipped, cracked dirty piece for way more than its worth. But The Queen Bee doesn't seem to do that.

I got this, which I don't think is vintage, it just looks that way:

And this, which is definitely vintage:

The owner told me it was a pattern that Jewel Tea sold in the mid-20th century, made by Hall China. I guess their famous pattern is Autumn Leaf, and I can't for the life of me remember what she said this pattern is. I like to collect china made in southeastern Ohio, and this dish is stamped "Cambridge" which is about an hour from where I went to college.

A cursory Google search reveals that this topic is far more complicated than I have time for at the moment. I may have to call the store and find out exactly what this pattern is called. But anyway, I've been thinking about getting a small casserole dish, since our two-person meals don't always require big dishes, and this should fit the bill.

I am extremely disillusioned with my Pfaltzgraff dinnerware and I decided I'd like to replace it with something American-made, but the options are very, very limited. So now I'm thinking about leaping into estate-sale season with a goal, when it starts up here in the next couple months: a new (old) set of dishes. I'm kicking myself for selling the like-new set I picked up at an auction two years ago for five bucks, but at the time I didn't have a place to store it. Now I wish I'd kept it, now that the Pfaltzgraff is cracking and crazing and making me mad.

All right, I'm off to pry up and paint some bathroom trim. Yippee!

Friday, January 30, 2009

Having fun.

Here are a few fun things we've done lately:

Two weeks ago we went and visited my brother's family, armed with a present for my niece Natalie's sixth birthday.

I decided several years ago that for each of my nieces' sixth birthdays, I would get them an American Girl historical doll. Our birthday gifts are usually much, much more modest, believe me, but I just think those dolls are so neat. So Natalie was the fourth niece to get her AG doll, and I got her Samantha.

She seemed to like her! This was the first time I've actually been able to give a doll in person, all my other nieces live too far away.

So there are two nieces left who have yet to turn six, one next year and one the year after that. It's fun to do something special for them when they're right at an age to really enjoy it. I like being an aunt.

For dinner that night, my cousin Trina and her husband Brian came over, and I finally got to see their baby boy Tristan, who is six months old. He's so precious!

I love holding babies. Tristan is very alert and loves to look all around and smile at people.

The girls like him, too.

I tried to take a lot of pictures, I really did, but two active girls and a squirmy baby don't make for good photo ops. But we had a really great evening...the adults got to talk and talk, and the girls played, and the baby hung out on various people's laps till he fell asleep.

We hadn't seen Trina and Brian in a year or two, so it was super to spend some time catching up. They are both smart and funny and just very good people. Baby Tristan totally lucked out, getting them for a mom and dad.

The next morning, we stopped off in Charlottesville on our way home and met my cousin Alan and his girlfriend Krista for lunch on the downtown mall. This time we had such a good time, I never even remembered to take my camera out of my pocket! I think I need my scrapbooker's club membership revoked.

We went to a restaurant called Himalayan Fusion for lunch, which is one of the things I love about C-ville (funky restaurants) and stopped into several used bookstores, which is another thing I love about C-ville (people there read), and then we had gelato, which is yet another thing I love about C-ville (fancy ice cream.) I bought a biography of Catherine the Great, a book about Richmond burning at the end of the Civil War, and a book about the Jamestown colony.

I am a big fan of my cousin Alan, so I was curious to meet Krista, and I liked her a lot. She's super-smart and we had a big long conversation about books. In other words, she completely filled my requirements for Alan's girlfriend. Hee! It was another terrific time of just talking and laughing with two good people.

I realize, re-reading this, that smartness seems to be something I look for and appreciate in a person. In my experience, smartness usually goes hand-in-hand with niceness. Now I know there are some smart, mean people out there (Dick Cheney springs to mind) but in my experience, the smart folks I've known are also super people.

Also in my experience, stupid seems to go hand-in-hand with mean. In general.

Speaking of Dick Cheney, last weekend, we went to see the movie about his old boss: "Frost/Nixon." Richard Nixon, another smartie but baddie.
It was a good movie. Funny, interesting, and a great character study. You don't have to know a whole lot about Watergate to enjoy the movie, it's really more about a president who broke the law and the very unlikely person who made him look hard at what he'd done and finally take some responsibility for it.

So then on the drive home, Todd and I had a long chat about why Nixon got caught and yet Bush 2 has gotten away with crimes that seem much worse to me than anything Nixon and his co-horts did. This is also why I love my husband, because he'll talk about Watergate with me. Smart and nice. Last night we were watching TV and this funny phrase kept coming up, and I turned to him and said, "We need to add this to our..." and he said, "Lexicon?"

And I swear that made me want to jump his bones right there. 'Cause smart and nice is sexy, too!

Have a fun weekend!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009


I'm up late at night again, talking to myself. Todd conked out at 9:30 while we were watching "The New Adventures of Old Christine" on DVD. I love Julia Louis-Dreyfus. Anybody who can look that good at whatever her age is--without getting all plastic-surgery-freakish--is a hero to me. (Wikipedia says she's 48.) And she is so funny, and she loves being funny and doing whatever it takes to get the laugh. Love it!

We had fajitas tonight because I saw Tyler Florence make them on the Food Network last week and they looked delicious. I used his recipe, which calls for chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, which I'm sure are stacked in mountains on the grocery store shelves in L.A. and New York, but which are harder to come by here in what we fondly call the butt crack of Virginia.

I had to go to two different stores to find them, and in the second store, I had to keep muttering "chipotles in adobo, chipotles in adobo" to myself as I was shopping, so I wouldn't forget to go back to the Mexican aisle and pick them up, as I'd already passed that aisle once and forgotten.

It occurred to me that "chipotles in adobo" would be a good mantra if you were in one of the goofier meditative religions and needed a catchy mantra. It's just this side of nonsensical, especially if you mutter it 10 or 20 times.

I think weird thoughts in the grocery store. At my old grocery store, I would wheel my cart around and sing along with the oldies they played on the Muzak system, so chanting grocery items is a step up from that, I think. Maybe not. Anyway, the fajitas were good. It was hard to scrub the chipotle stink off my hands, though.

I was doing really well for a long time with planning meals, making grocery lists, and cooking, but somehow the double whammy of Christmas travel and being sick really threw me off my stride. We're still eating at home most of the time, but I'm scrounging around at the last moment every night for an idea, and I don't like that. I need to get back into my groove.

The couponing has just been dreadful lately, too, and that's also disheartening. There are so many of them I just can't or won't use because the products are too salty or too gross or whatever, and it seems like the ones I do use are getting worse. 50¢ off one item is much better (when your store doubles and triples coupons under 99¢) than $1.00 off two items is. And the sticker shock is such that I really feel motivated to get those coupons and USE them with the sales. It's just not happening.

I've been having to go to my happy place a lot the past few days because of my anxiety over this economic stimulus package and the cost of it and hearing every day about jobs lost, and homes lost, and the post office talking about cutting back mail days because it's so's all a little disturbing. I try not to fret about it because there's nothing I can do about any of it, but it's this nagging worry and you can't help but wonder how bad it's really going to get. And you have no idea who to believe about what we need to do to fix it all. It's not keeping me up nights, but I know there are lots and lots of people who are having sleepless nights wondering how they're going to survive, and I feel terrible for them.
We are doing okay for now--Todd's company has more work than they have people to do it--but I don't want to get complacent. Things can change in an instant.

And on that cheerful note--night-night.
Thank you, thank you for the sweet comments below. When I started writing that last post, I certainly wasn't thinking it would turn into what the girls at Two Peas call a PVM (please validate me) post, but it kind of did! So thanks for the validation. Sometimes you just need a pat on the back, I guess.

We are having a big pile of lousy weather here--no snow, but lots of rain and wind, both of which are currently slamming against my study windows. It was about 60 degrees this morning, so I opened some of the downstairs windows to let the fresh air blow around a little. But the window screens smell funky, so the air that blew through them ended up smelling funky, too. Is there some homemaker rule about regularly scrubbing down window screens that I missed out on, along with all the other homemaker rules I missed out on? Is this a job for Febreze?

I saw on somebody's blog the other day where she wrapped a store-bought candle with fancy paper, so I grabbed a scrap of paper and an old sticker that were on top of a pile of supplies sitting on the floor, and covered a Glade candle.

You could really get fancy with such a project, but I was in a slap-it-on mood. It's a strawberries-and-cream scent, and it smells so good. On a gloomy day like today, you want a nice summery scent, something that reminds you of sunshine. But now I want some strawberry ice cream.

I'm feeling very scratchy and impatient with myself today. I don't seem to be able to get into the zone on anything I've attempted, all day long. Everything I touch seems to break or stop working. Urgh.

Hope the sun comes out tomorrow, that would be quite nice!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Blogs and bleah-gs.

I've been perusing a lot of different blogs the past month or so...first I was visiting a lot of blogs from participants in the Journal Your Christmas class, and lately I've been looking for some more good blogs about home decor and/or thrifting and vintage stuff.

All this blog-reading (bleading?) has cemented in my mind what I like and what I don't like in the world of blogs. I'm only going to link to examples of what I do like...examples of what I don't like should spring to mind readily enough for anybody who's blog-surfed even a little.

--I like a blog with nice big type on a light-colored background. Not too big, I don't need the large-print setting (yet) but not wee wee tiny, either. White words on a black background = your prose had better be right up there with Dickens and Twain to make me stick around and risk irreversible eye strain.

Here's a very nice example of a perfectly typeset blog, written by the perfectly wonderful Suzanne: Notes For My Kids' Therapist.

--While I'm talking type...I don't need you to change fonts and colors every couple of sentences or make various sentences or words real big while the rest of your typing is normal-size. It makes you look like a thirteen-year-old. I've noticed that the quality of writing on these types of blogs is usually at the thirteen-year-old level, too.

This is the neatest, tidiest, most grown-up-looking blog I know of: Simply Recipes. The side ads are an unfortunate development, but if it means success for Elise, I can deal.

--Here's a hint: if your blog header takes up my entire computer screen, I'm going to feel less and less compelled to scroll down past it every time I visit. Yes, I have blog header envy, since I still haven't found someone who will explain to me in baby talk how to make a fancy one for myself, but still. Bigger is not always better.

This is one of my favoritest blog headers clean, so simple, so freshvintage.

Another nice one: Gracious Hospitality.

--Funny is good. Sarcastic funny is even better. But your blog doesn't even have to be funny or clever, just well-written. A few bloggers whose writing style I admire:

Vintage Rescue Squad

I Am Not Left-Handed

Thrift Shop Romantic

Red Molly

--I like music. You like music, too. But we probably don't like the same kind of music. And when your nifty playlist player on the sidebar starts to blast out something very loud a few seconds or even minutes after I've come to your blog, usually over top of whatever I'm listening to at the moment, it scares the beejeebers out of me and makes me want to run away and never come back. 'Kay?

--I love seeing pictures of what you found at the flea market. Not so crazy about seeing pictures of what you spotted in some high-end catalog that you're currently dying for. Flea market finds are way more interesting than designer clocks.

--I don't know if blogging should be about writing about your exciting life, or about making your boring life sound exciting. I prefer hearing about boring lives, though. The exciting, fancy lives just make me feel old and, well...boring.

I would never say any of these people's lives are boring, but they're normal and they make me feel kinship, instead of horrible bitter jealousy:

Bigger Than a Breadbox

Oodles and Oodles

My Romantic Home

One Woman's Cottage Life

Mint Basil

I love getting peeps into other people's lives. I think, at its best, that's what blogging should be about: the words, the pictures, and getting to really know the people you visit regularly. I hope this blog is like that. All the extra stuff is distraction. I've been writing this blog for almost four years, and I think about yanking the plug at least once a month. It's a little of this and a little of that, and none of it feels terribly interesting. I don't get a lot of traffic, I don't have an Etsy shop, I'm not plugging a project, I don't run with any hip blogging crowd. It's just me here, typing words as they come to mind. I feel constrained sometimes by what I don't want people to know about me, especially the people who come here who do know me.

Mmm...introspection. Or in other words, "Like a doofus, I had caff-tea with supper and now I'm buzzed up late at night and thinking thoughts!"

Anyway, if you stop by here on occasion, I hope you like my blog. Chances are, I'm liking yours, too.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Paint chips.

Well, we've been doing some house project planning...I finally finished the last interior door (*fanfare*) and Saturday we picked up the big bi-fold doors for our bedroom closet. So, I guess technically, I haven't finished the last interior door, but it was the last regular door, and let me enjoy my feeling of accomplishment, okay?

Once again we're turning our attention to our two bathroom re-dos, but I think this time we may actually get one of them done in the foreseeable future. I'd love to do both bathrooms in one huge swoop of productivity, but Todd is dubious that such a feat is possible. Both bathrooms need new paint on baseboards and walls, new flooring, new vanities, new sinktops, and new medicine cabinet doors.

Over on the right are the latest of the many, many paint chips I've picked up for our master bath. I'd like it to be some shade of light blue or a light teal, to coordinate with our bedroom, which has light coffee-colored walls and blue and teal accents.

Blue is a tricky color. I've never dithered around with a paint color as much as I have with this one. You don't want it too icy, or too bright. Nothing's worse than electric blue walls. We painted our bedroom light blue in the last house we owned, and although it was soothing at night, it was just this side of screechy in the daytime.

This bathroom has a south-facing window, so it gets lots of light, which also really affects the way a particular shade of blue looks at a particular time of day. I'm stumped so far. I know I don't want a really, really pale blue, but neither do I want it to be too dark. I like the idea of a light teal, but again, it can't be too dark. One of the things we like about the bathroom is how full of light it is, and we don't want to detract from that too much with a dark wall color.

These kinds of things are fun to fuss over--until it's go-time and you have to make a decision. Fortunately, I still have some fussing time left. We'll tackle the guest bath first and who knows when the master bath will get its due. I suspect it will need a new sub-floor, which will elevate it to a whole new level of home improvement headache.

Anyway, Todd likes the second chip from the top, which is called Lisbon Blue. I like it, too, but when I picture it on four whole walls, I think it might be a little screechy.
Which one do you like?

I think they all look nice with my old framed postcards, which are the main decoration in the limited wall space of that bathroom. I collected a bunch of them years ago that each had a body of water in the picture, and framed them in super-cheap IKEA frames that I white-washed. They used to hang in a dark green bathroom in our old house in Columbus, and looked nice there, but I think they might really pop against the right shade of blue.
I have eight of them all lined up against the right side of the window.

This is always a nice time of year to look around and think about new ways to feather your nest. It's too cold to be out and about too much, and so you can rummage through closets and find treasures and hang and rearrange things. I've been going through kitchen cupboards and drawers and tossing things and organizing. The only danger is when you make a bigger mess than you had before, and then you have to figure out how to get it all put away. That's when it's tempting to just forget the big projects and cuddle up with a blanket and book and keep the house tidy!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Giveaway alert!

Jeune Girl Crafts is giving away a nice big custom-decorated Provo Craft wall letter on her blog--go over and leave a comment for a chance to win!

It's almost at the end, but Casii at Granny Panty Chic is also doing a great giveaway, so be sure to check that out before tomorrow, too!

See ya later!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

President Obama.

I haven't written very much about Barack Obama in my blog. It's hard for a hopeful yet cynical person to know what to say about him.

I have never been a sloganeer or a follower or a breathless believer in much of anything. I haven't trusted a politician since Gary Hart broke my 14-year-old heart in 1984.

So I don't have much use for "Yes, we can!" or for the people who seem to think that the minute Obama places his hand on the Bible, America will spring into glorious Technicolor, just like when Dorothy stepped out of her house into Oz. Nobody, and certainly no politician, has that kind of power in this country. Obama is taking on the presidency at a scary and dangerous moment, and most of his plans will fall under the twists and turns of forces and people outside his control.

But I did vote for him, and I am excited about today and I do like him. The main thing that makes me root for him to succeed is that he's my kind of person. He's a reader. He likes to think and talk about big ideas. He likes to look at all the different sides of a thing. He seems to take his life's responsibilities seriously. I just hope someone like that can succeed in today's Presidency.

The former President was the exact opposite of my kind of person. He could not have been more opposite. The only thing I kind of liked about him was that he could be a bit of a smartass. But since he was usually being a smartass about things that are important to me like...oh...war...and you know, the Constitution and stuff, I didn't fully appreciate that side of him, either.

Anyway, I'm pretty neutral about what Obama will be able to do--not quite pessimistic, not quite optimistic. More of a wait-and-see setting. The disappointments of the Clinton era are still a little too fresh in my mind for me to think that Obama will be able to enact many, if any, of the major changes he has in mind. I just hope he stays safe and healthy, that his wife and daughters thrive in their new life, and that we see some real cooperation and agreement in our government on where to go from here.

Just kidding about that last part. That would be Oz!

Monday, January 19, 2009


The time has come to say good-bye. So, guys...

...For all that you did.
...For all that you didn't do.
...For all that you did and pretended you didn't do.
...For all that you didn't do but patted yourselves on the back for anyway.
...For all that one of you did while the other was oblivious.
...For all that one of you did while the other pulled the strings.
...For all that you ignored, neglected, manipulated, obstructed, hid, scoffed at, and just plain screwed up.
...For all the power grabs, bogus invasions, signing statements, late-night Justice department phone calls, facial shootings, malapropisms, record deficits, wiretappings, waterboardings, vacation days, and deleted e-mails.

For all these things and more, we'll never forget you guys.

Even though we wish we could.

Don't let the back door hit ya where the good Lord split ya.

A winner!

When you get up on Monday morning and your first task is to get that last closet door painted, the one you've been putting off for four or five months, and then you can't find a paintbrush you move on to the next task, which is to vacuum up the Christmas tree needles and glitter flakes from the tree and ornaments you took down three weeks ago, and the vacuum blows a circuit breaker ten seconds me that's fate's way of saying, "Janelle, forget all this pesky housework and go do your blog giveaway."

So Brittney, my Canadian friend, congrats!!! You win the magazine, the notecards, and anything else I can find around here and shove into a big envelope. (Be afraid, be very afraid.) And thanks, everybody else, for stopping by and entering. I like having visitors here, even if my blog isn't quite the most fascinating or stimulating thing on the Internet! And now I have some new friends' blogs to visit, too, so thanks!

More later...I have to get back to my household tasks and see what else will go awry today. Maybe I can chop off a finger and get out of housework forever!

Friday, January 16, 2009

Away again, for reals.

Todd got home tonight from his week in Maryland, and tomorrow we're just making a quick run over to the middle part of the state, to have a birthday dinner with my brother's family (my brother turned 34 on the 13th; my niece turns 6 on the 20th) and then lunch the next day with my cousin.

I found some cute cards in the dollar section at Michael's and blinged them up with some Stickles, so they're going into the giveaway jackpot, too. I'd take a picture but I can't lay hands on my camera at the moment. Doh.

See ya later!

Thursday, January 15, 2009


In all my cleaning and sorting, I discovered that I have two copies of the 2008 issue of Somerset Home. I have no idea how that happened, I can't believe that I could have bought it twice, but I guess that's what happened.

So I'm going to give it away here, along with a few other goodies I'll scrounge up and add to it. Maybe a few vintage papers, maybe this, maybe that, you never know what I'll find in my scrounging!

If you think you'd like the mag (which is a terrific one) and the goodies, just leave a comment on this post between now and Sunday night at midnight. I'll draw someone at random to receive the prize. Please be sure to leave an e-mail in your comment if you don't have your e-mail linked to your Blogger profile, so I can reach you if you win.

And if you post a link to this giveaway on your own blog, let me know in your comment and I'll enter your name in the drawing TWICE. You can't beat them odds, right?

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Still here.

Well, I ended up not going along to MD--I decided at literally the last minute that I'd rather just stay here and not walk around in the frigid cold up there looking for stuff to do. I felt bad, but it seems like the right decision--Todd is working till pretty late each evening, so it's not like I would have seen much of him anyway.

I spent most of Monday and part of Tuesday sleeping, and that seems to have helped with the cold and exhaustion. (Thanks for the get well wishes!) I felt much more peppy today, and went back to the horrific mess in my study and almost got it all tamed. Tomorrow I need to do some painting and cleaning elsewhere in the house. I also have a little Valentine's Day project I really want to take some time and work on. I hate it when I buy stuff for a project and then never get it done. That's the source of half the mess in my study!

While I'm sitting here taking a breather, let me share some long-overdue photos from October, when my mother-in-law came down to visit and helped me get some curtains up. There's a very nice blog called Nesting Place whose author has come up with an idea she calls "window mistreatments." This idea really intrigued me, because I've never been fond of traditional window treatments. They're expensive and intimidating, and just not me.

When we moved into this house, the only curtains I put up were some long cream tab-tops from Target in our bedroom, and a rod-pocket valance with cherries on it in the kitchen, which Todd and I had made for our last house (remember, he's the seamstress, not me. I'm just the presser of hems.) Then my mother-in-law made me some simple panels for my study a year or two later. (You can see 'em here, just scroll down almost to the bottom of the month.)

So anyway, window mistreatments. Basically the idea is to grab a long piece of fabric, fold it over so you don't have to hem it, and then use upholstery tacks to stab it into the wall at appropriate intervals.

Viv and I are both a little more precise than that, so we did cut the fabric to the appropriate width and then hem it, rather than having bulky folds. Here's how it came out on the living room window:

The valance looked a little naked, so I went and got some $10 sheers at Wal-Mart and tacked 'em up under the valance. Voila!

In the dining room, we have long vertical blinds on the sliding glass doors to the back deck. They run on a flat, covered rail about 3" wide. I was never able to figure out an easy way to cover that up, but Viv had a brainstorm and suggested clipping fabric directly to the rail clothespins! And it worked great! This is a piece of fabric I'd originally intended for the living room--and we had hemmed it up back when we did the study curtains, but never got around to using it. It looks great in the dining room, I think.

Here's a close-up of how she did it:

Then I had Viv whip up two simple panels with ring-clips to cover the half-bath window off the kitchen, but I don't have a good picture of that.

Now I just need some simple valances for Todd's study and some kind of nice curtain for our bathroom window, and then the house will be fully curtained. And we've only lived here three years and counting...!

Don't I have an awesome mom-in-law? My windows would all be naked but for her!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Away again.

I am heading up to Aberdeen, MD with Todd tomorrow morning to keep him company while he does some work for his company this week. Well, not while he works, but in the evenings, and on the way to and from.

I've seriously debated going, because I have a lot to do here and I am STILL not feeling 100% good, but the suitcase is packed so I have to go now, right?

I have HAD IT with feeling sick, feeling exhausted, and coughing till I pee. HAD. IT. I know I should probably stay home and go to the doctor, but I'm one of those people who has zero faith in the ability of my doctor to be any help to me. If I ignore things long enough, they usually just go away. I know that's stupid, and Todd is even worse about it than I am!


Tuesday, January 06, 2009

January weather.

My my my, what a gloomy day! Rainy and cold and dark!

My father-in-law is driving home through all of that, and I hope he's having a safe trip. Come to think of it, he may be home by now, or close to it, if the weather cooperated. He was here for five days and he and Todd did a ton of kayak fishing and hanging out together. It was a really nice visit.

In cleaning out my study, I found an album of pictures from Todd's family that I must have borrowed from my mother-in-law years ago (at least three moves ago, I'm thinking) and inexplicably never returned. I never scanned and saved any of the photos, either--I don't know what I was thinking. So I did that last evening so my FIL could take it back home where it belongs today.

I have seen very few photos from my FIL's side of the family--I'm not sure where they've all scattered to, but there was a nice big 8x10 in the album that definitely caught my eye:

This is the Ferrante family in 1947. Todd's great-grandparents are in the middle, surrounded by their eight children and some of the children's spouses, and the grandchildren that had come along by that time. I'm sure there were more later on.

Todd's grandpap is the second man from the left, and Todd's dad is the baby sitting on Todd's grandma's lap way over on the right.

I'm amazed they got all those kids to stand and sit so nicely, knowing firsthand how those large family group photos usually proceed. Maybe kids were better behaved back then!

It looks like Todd's great-grandparents did pretty well for themselves and their family, for a couple of Italian immigrants who came here, I'm sure, with very little. I'm always fascinated with other people's dressed-up, stylish-looking ancestors, because most of mine were Mennonites who, even if they were dressed nicely for a photographed occasion, certainly weren't dressed in the fashion of the day.

In other news, my study remains a disaster as I sit and stare at piles of things to be sorted, and heave a sigh, and move into another, tidier room for a few hours. It's crazy to have so many uncompleted projects just sitting around. Mostly pages that need to go into albums, and albums that don't have room for any more pages. Funny how that works.

I think I'll get started on some supper so I don't have to sit here and look at them anymore!

Sunday, January 04, 2009

On the move.

Ahhh, I'm finally coming out of my stupor of sickness, and it feels so good!

Today I decided to take advantage of having Todd's dad here and have him and Todd rearrange the furniture in my study. I had to take everything off my big bookshelves, clear off my desk, move it all across the hall into my bedroom, and then they came in and did the heavy lifting.

Then I started bringing everything back in, pausing for occasional coughing fits. All the dust didn't help with that!

I still don't have it all put away yet...that will take a while. I have to go through everything, toss stuff out, re-pack some of it, re-organize more of it, etc. etc. And hang stuff and all that. I got my comfy chair all nestled into the corner, though, and it looks nice.

Tomorrow I'm cracking the whip again and they'll be taking down the outdoor Christmas lights and putting the tree and ornaments in the attic. Hee hee! (*rubbing hands with glee*) Men are so darn useful!

I also listed a huge stack of cookbooks on PaperbackSwap. I realize that I turn to the Internet now whenever I'm looking for a cooking idea--Allrecipes is my stand-by site. And I need the space the books are taking up. I still have plenty left, don't worry!

Then I'm going to empty out all the cabinets and drawers in the kitchen and figure out where things need to go now. I have stuff busting out of everywhere, and I know I don't need some of it. And some of it might be able to go somewhere else, too. Although it feels like all I do in this house is move things from one storage spot to another, trying to find the perfect place.

Speaking of the Internet supplanting you think I should get rid of my paperback thesaurus and my big hardback dictionary? I check the Merriam-Webster and
sites automatically now, before it ever occurs to me to check the actual books.

I love January. I love starting out the New Year getting organized!

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Bye bye, Christmas.

Here's the last week of my Christmas journal:

I had kind of a hard time getting the last pages of this thing done. And it wasn't just the cold medicine and lack of inspiration. This was just a *blah* Christmas this year in a lot of ways. Being sick was the worst part, and missing out on seeing a lot of people. My parents were exhausted and stressed. My sister's family lost their grandpa just a couple weeks before. It was sad to see my grandma who is really just not herself anymore.

One of the really sad moments was being at my church's Christmas Eve's almost always a chorus concert, and I sang in the chorus all through junior high, high school, and into college. Whenever I sit through the Christmas Eve service I always think about those years and years of previous services and how much fun they were.

The music director at our church all through those years was a great guy--smart, funny, just very, very nice. I really admired him. He committed suicide this past spring...I think it shocked almost everyone who knew him to the core. So I was sitting there on Christmas Eve listening to all those familiar voices, and thinking about all those other Christmas Eves with John directing the chorus, and I just couldn't get him out of my mind.

I got up to go to the restroom during a part where the chorus was sitting down and they were having some instrumental music, and who should I run into at the drinking fountain but John's sister. She is a fellow alto, and we stood next to each other in the alto section in the chorus.

I debated for a second whether to say anything to her about him, but I had been having such a strong sense of him, so I told her I was thinking about John. Her eyes filled with tears and she said, "I can hardly get through this night." We both just stood there and wept for a couple of minutes. It broke my heart and I still can't figure if it was right to mention him to her or not, since she had to pull it together and go back in and sing after that. I hope it helped her to know that someone else was thinking about him, too.

Sooo...just some sadness this Christmas. And this feeling that as the years go by, there will be other people I'll be missing as well. Ugh.

Not that there weren't lots of little lovely moments, too, because there were! I called them "moments of grace" in my last entry. These tiny things that connect you to the people you love, conversations, smiles, shared jokes and laughter. Thank goodness for those! I enjoyed my nephew Tanner and niece Kylie SO much this year...they are growing up into delightful people and it's fun to relate to them in a new way now that they're not "littles" any more. (Not that I don't adore the "littles" in the family--I do!) And my sweetie pie Todd makes every Christmas happy for me in a myriad of ways.

So the tree came down today and the journal is done, and I'm more than ready to move on from the holiday season and get my hands onto and into 2009.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Word for the year.

The much-revered Ali E. has a question on her blog about what one word you would choose to sum up what you want to focus on in 2009.

The word I picked is "pursue." I spent way too much of 2008 sitting on my keister waiting for things to happen. This year I am going to pursue the things I want for myself. (Right now I want to pursue a good cough remedy and a lengthy neck massage!)

What's your word?

Happy New Year!

Here I sit all alone with my cough and my laptop. Todd and his dad (who's braving our house of plague for a visit) went to bed at eleven.

So I'm lifting my water glass in a toast to a really wonderful 2009 for everybody out there! Somehow I have a good feeling about this year, I don't know why. I have a lot I want to get done and a lot I want to experience this year.

Happy New Year!!!