Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Christmas crafts

Here's two craft projects I've been working on:
1. Holiday Journal - - saw the idea up in Alexandria, MN and loved the concept. Hopefully, I will actually use it, rather than "save it for a special occasion."
2. Advent activities jar - - we don't have a traditional Advent calendar (although someday, I would love to make a fabric-quilt-with-pockets-with-numbers-stitched-on-them version). For now, this is what we're using to count down to Christmas.
Got lots of the ideas for activities from Kiddley and adjusted it to our schedule (and climate). I just printed out the list and cut apart the days.

1. Have an indoor picnic
2. Christmas in Conrad celebration
3. Watch a holiday movie – DD's choice
4. Give everyone crazy hairstyles
5. Play Twister
6. Go out for Chinese
8. Write letters to Santa Claus
9. Watch a holiday movie - Mom’s choice
10. Tour of Christmas decorations (don’t forget the hot chocolate)
11. Make decorations for the tree
12. Have a camp out around the Christmas tree
13. Make s’mores
14. Fancy dress for dinner time
15. Wrap a toy and take it to a charity Christmas tree
16. Make handmade gift tags for relatives
17. Make sock puppets and tell a story
18. Make tree & star shaped pasta for dinner
19. Dance like crazy to music
20. Have breakfast for dinner
21. Have hot chocolate with all the fixings
22. Star gazing
23. Watch a holiday movie – Dad’s choice
24. Special Christmas Eve treat TBA

What would your activities look like? What special things do you do to celebrate Advent?

Catching up

Just a few things to report and a few photos to share:

Thanksgiving was extremely low-key this year. My mom shared the holiday with us and DH's family. We went to DH's sister's for Thanksgiving dinner. Lots of kids and food and fun (as usual). I'm a little more than embarrassed to tell you that the feast was not as "local" as I would have liked. My family and DH's family don't really share our views when it comes to eating locally. All that aside, it was a very nice time. DD was so busy playing with all her cousins, she didn't even get in the "family" picture!
The day after Thanksgiving is always reserved for decorating. Forget the whole "black Friday" thing . . . you will not find me getting crushed amidst the ridiculous over-commercialization of this sacred holiday. No way. Anyhoo . . . we have four Christmas trees [yes, 4]. I usually put all four up, but this year, I've adopted the philosophy "if I don't feel like it or don't really enjoy doing it, then I'm not gonna do it." I'm a much happier person for it (despite my surly demeanor towards DH when he tried to "help" by bringing down all the boxes from the attic). We put up the big tree in the dining room. It's decorated with burgundy and gold - - the same thing I've had for the last eight years. One of the smaller trees is usually decorated with homemade ornaments or memorabilia. I have a feeling that one of these nights, DH and DD will put it up for fun.

We've had some really crazy weather here lately - - 64 and sunny on Monday. It was great because the chickens thought they needed to lay eggs again (you go, girls!). Today it's 28 and overcast and wet - - yuck! And, you guessed it, the hens have not laid one egg today! I would love to just get some real snow! You know, "the weather outside is frightful/but the fire inside's delightful/but since we've nowhere to go/let it snow, let it snow, let it snow" kind of snow? Bring it on!

Very sad news today. Our long-time (14+ years) Main Street director passed away after two years battling with cancer. She was well-respected and loved in our little community and I hope you will pray for her family.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Not sure what to think...

about this. Please don't be offended by the title of the book . . . read the interview. Some very interesting thoughts set out here. I agree with some, not with all. Your thoughts? Is it nutritionally sound/correct?

Creature Comforts

The new cornstove is much appreciated. On most nights, you can find us in the den with the tv off, reading, listening to a podcast on the computer, DD plays with her paper dolls, or we just sit in the dark and watch the lovely flame.
Warmth . . . togetherness . . . home

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

It's that time already?

Gift-giving season is upon us and I've found a few great ideas for the novice and experienced crafter/cook. All wonderfully thoughtful, unique, and relatively inexpensive.
Here and
Go ahead, give one a try. You might actually enjoy it!
I've been trying (unsuccessfully) to pick up the knitting needles, ball of yarn and two pages of instructions my mom gave me two years ago. I'm hopeless when it comes to written instructions and diagrams. I need someone to show me. My mom's a wonderful crafter (she knits, crochets, cross-stitch) and she passed down some of those crafty genes. But I lack patience (and a full-time private tutor). So I asked some ladies at work to show me how to knit and/or crochet. That's next week's project!

Obviously, I'm already missing gardening season. I've been working on next year's garden plan, studying the ISU Extension website for hints and ideas, and trying to remember all that I've learned (*mistakes I've made*) from my previous years' gardens. Because my garden will be substantially smaller next year - - due to DH's new building being located on top of 70% of my previous garden and because I just don't have time to maintain a huge garden - - I need to grow more efficiently and effectively next year. I'm planning more successive crops (after the peas are done, I plant tomatoes in their place, and then peas after the tomatoes are done), much more mulch (put all the grass clippings to good use), and installing a water collection and drip irrigation system (less water waste). I also need to be more open minded about actually eating the food I grow (still haven't convinced myself to cook the butternut squash that is sitting out in the garage). The challenge of eating locally and in season has actually been more fun than chore. Even though the potatoes we froze were awful, the potatoes that I put in the garage are wonderful, so I use those when I can. It absolutely kills me to buy frozen corn, beans & peas!

Sunday, November 19, 2006

It's finally here

The new holiday music cd we produced is now on sale. You can read all about it here - - it was the front page story of the local Sunday paper! You can't ask for better PR! To hear samples of the songs, click here.

What a lazy weekend. This is the first time in a VERY long time that we did absolutely nothing! We had a birthday party Friday night. I slept in Saturday and I did not clean a thing, nor did I do one stitch of laundry (I'll pay for that later this week). DH was in bed by 8:00 pm Saturday night. To church this morning and "visiting" relatives this afternoon. Very boring we are...

Monday, November 13, 2006

She . . .

Reads! DD is really enjoying learning to read. She has the vintage "Dick/Jane/Sally" book and can read the whole thing. She's sooooo proud!
Eats! DD loves her veggies! We had green beans for dinner tonight and when she asked for seconds, she asked for the "rest of the bowl . . . you don't want any, do you Mom & Dad?"

Spots wildlife! DD pointed out a small group of deer on the edge of town the other day. They stood still until I reached for the camera.
LOVES going to the Festival of Trees with her Grammy! She was enamored with the Subway (sandwich) tree last year - - she talked about it every time a Subway commercial came on tv (now that's great brand identity!). DD stayed with her Grammy D on Saturday night; they went to see "Flicka" and to church together on Sunday. I met up with them Sunday afternoon and we all went to the GC Festival of Trees.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

The sun sets on another political season

And what a night it was. Denise O'Brien had a substantial lead early on, but then eventually lost by only 2 points. The outcome certainly showed that Iowans are ready for a change in its agricultural policies and practices. Even though Denise didn't win the office of Secretary of Agriculture, I know she will continue to work for safe and healthy food, farms, and families. I'm so proud of what she brought to this race and that she kept her cool, even when she was being attacked and maligned by her opposition. That seemed to be a common practice during this political season and I'm happy to say that it's over.

Last night was also our first parent-teacher conferences. We received DD's report card last week and had a chance to review it before we met with her teacher. DD did very well and is "above grade level" in many areas. Okay . . . yes, I'm bragging a bit (that's my job!). We adore DD's teacher - - she's fair, patient, and challenges the kids to rise above. We're so lucky to have Mrs. H!

DH finished the exterior of the new building last week - - what a relief! He'll be spending most of his time inside the building now with insulation, drywall, and organizing all the tools.