Sunday, December 30, 2007

so many great books

I got so many great books for Christmas, but the one that I've been diving head-first into is Deceptively Delicious by Jessica Seinfeld. I heard so much about it when it first came out. I thought, hmm...the concept sounds good. But I never bothered to look it up online or visit it in the bookstore. If I had, I definitely would have asked for this book for Christmas. Fortunately, mom knew that the combination of content and eye-catching cover (Yes, I judge books by their covers and this book is cute all the way around) would be the perfect gift for me. And I've been LOVING the concept. I'll be heading off to the farmer's market grocer tomorrow to stock up on veggies. By New Year's day our freezer will be stocked with veggie purees to sneak into everything from pancakes to mac-n-cheese. I'm so delighted with this concept. As I've been feeding the 11-month old his pureed meals I've often thought, "Now why couldn't I just slip this stuff into my 4-year old's dinner?" Answer is, according to Jessica Seinfeld, you can. We'll just see about that.

Like I said, so many great books waiting for me to digest. I'm anxious to post about them soon. In the meantime, another New Year's Resolution.

Read AT LEAST one book a month

I know this probably sounds hideous. Non-parents read several books a month. Believe me - I used to read a lot too. The New Year's Resolution is to MAKE the time to read more. It's simply pathetic that I can't think of a single book I finished last year. Pathetic. So, to start... while watching an on-demand movie about Truman Capote the other night, I was reminded that I've never actually read Breakfast at Tiffany's. So, with one of his Barnes and Noble gift cards, the hubby picked up a copy for me. First book of the year, Breakfast at Tiffany's.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

thought, precision and intention

Today's Chore: take down Christmas.

It's always so fun putting Christmas up. Unwrapping each ornament to find treasures that I'd almost forgotten about in a year's time. When I was little I imagined that each tree ornament was singing because it was so happy to be out of its box. When the entire tree was decorated I could hear the chorus of my imagination in my head. And now that the once-living tree has lost several shades of green, it is obvious that it is time to carefully wrap up each ornament, one-by-time-consuming-one, and get the house back to it's regular old self. It's slightly sad, but at the same time I'm itching to get some of the Christmas clutter under control.

Pictured here is the quickly growing list of projects I'll attempt to tackle in '08. My notebook is coincidently sitting atop the four matching Christmas stockings I somehow managed to finish on Christmas Eve - just in time for Santa treats. Getting these done was a HUGE accomplishment for me because ever since our oldest son was born (FOUR years ago!) I intended to make a family set of stockings. In fact, for the past four years, the two matching stockings I made for the husband and I after we got married have hung from a door knob year-round. Each Christmas they would be the only items not packed away because I thought I'd make a new set sometime that year. Then, before I'd know it, another Christmas would be upon me and yet another unaccomplished project. Ah, these projects, they'll be the death of me. So maybe it's the adrenalin from finishing these stockings that has me pouring the project-yearning contents of my brain down on paper. Perhaps the only thing I love more than making lists like these is crossing things off such lists. Oh boy, it's gonna be a busy 2008!

New Year's Resolutions? Anyone?
Of course there are the usuals...

Eat healthy
Exercise more
Less booz
Less television

But while I was being pampered during a spa treatment (a Mother's Day gift - yep, that's how long it takes me to get around to making the time for such luxuries) I decided to use that moment, while my mind was free and clear of all stress and tension, to figure out what it was I REALLY wanted to accomplish in '08. After a lot of thought, it occurred to me that I would like to implement the Japanese philosophy of living to my everyday life. There is such beauty in the ceremony in Japanese culture. There is a calming presence in the simple structure and organization of Japanese art and architecture. I want to be surrounded by more beauty. Beauty in all things - the way the table looks when we sit down for dinner, the plants in the garden, the spice rack, the linen closet. Maybe I'll even take up Bonzai. Beauty derived from patience can be extremely meditative. I recognize that there simply can't be beauty in every corner. But, if I can control some of the clutter in the house, maybe I can clear out the cobwebs in my head as well. I received so many beautifully illustrated and photographed sewing and crafting books for Christmas - I want to make beautiful things all year long, and the honest truth is that messy spaces keep me from finding focus. SO! Long story short, I want to take the time to approach everything I do with careful thought, precision and intention. No more shoving empty sippy cups into the cabinet in just such a way so that it doesn't make all the other hoards of empty sippy cups fall upon my head. Take the time, line them up, toss the ones that leak and have a shelf with beautiful rows of sippy cups. "Wax on, Wax off." (I don't need to explain this quote, do I? For anyone who didn't grow up in the '80s, go rent Karate Kid)

Friday, December 21, 2007

from the kitchen

All prepped and ready to cook...

Caramel is bubbling...

Popcorn is popped and roasted almonds are ready for the caramel...

Fill them up!

Mission complete! Caramel popcorn buckets for the husband to take to work.

Monday, December 10, 2007

new beginnings

Oh my goodness. Can you believe it? My laptop has died. Or maybe it's just suffering from, hopefully, a 24-hour flu. It is currently in the hands of the beloved Geek Squad. Hopefully they'll be able to recover some of my precious files. If not, it's start from scratch time for me. It hadn't occured to me until now how much I'd done in a year. (Yes, I'm one of those who hadn't backed up file for a full complete year.) So, while I wait to see what may or may not be salveged, I'm thinking a lot about new beginnings.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

when the stars all align like that for you

I was browsing through photos from the year 2007 for our first annual photo collage holiday card insert (No, we don't write those addressed-to-the-masses holiday greetings. You just get photos from us.) when I stumbled upon this photograph that I snapped while stopped at a light in Oak Park, Illinois:

I forgot all about that. We were just sitting there - my camera poised because we'd been driving past all the Frank Lloyd Wright houses - and in between the baby crying, the little bugaboo complaining and my pouting because I wasn't able to enjoy all the Frank Lloyd Wright houses like I always imagined I would (I think we took this trip too late - Oak Park is meant to be seen immediately after graduating from architecture school and DEFINITELY before you have kids) I looked up and saw it. I said, "Hey," to the husband. And, somehow, magically, I got the shot. We didn't have to pull the car over, we didn't have to hold up traffic. The one thing that went right on that trip was that single instant where I was able to turn the camera on, point and click before the light changed and we had to be on our merry way. I love it when that happens. When the stars all align like that for you... I mean, what are the chances? Not only did I have the camera accessible, it was in my hands, for heaven's sake. So silly. Honestly, it's just plain silly!

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

huge, audible sigh

In between all the boring stuff - you know all the stuff I'm always complaining about - I whipped up this little guy. I can't remember where I was - sitting in traffic somewhere probably - but I was picturing a little felt tree with little felt ornaments. I quickly jotted the idea down so I wouldn't forget it. By doing so, I didn't forget. Not because it was written down for me to see, but because the act of writing it down made me remember. I haven't constructed the tree yet, but this little guy found a place on the real tree. (yes, a REAL Christmas tree - seems to be something of a novelty these days - I don't think I know one other person who isn't using a fake tree this year)

I think I may try to create a tutorial and pattern for anyone else who wants to make one. That is, if I can find the time in between everything else on the to-do list in my increasingly cramped head. I've started to make myself focus more about all I HAVE accomplished in the day or week instead of focussing entirely upon the long list of things I WANT to do and can't find the time to do. It's funny having a kid who is starting to pick up on habits I wasn't aware I had. Little Mr. Man has stared sighing a lot - and I realize that in those moments of thinking about the long to-do list I often let out a huge sigh. There's no reason to feel so overwhelmed, right? So every time I catch myself in the middle of a long inhale, I focus on the accomplishments before letting out a huge, audible sigh. There's always tomorrow, after all.

Monday, December 03, 2007

holiday colors

New holiday colors for this set of baby booties. They'll be added to the Etsy shop by the end of the day. I love this combination of blue, green and red. My next little project to do in between everything else today - a little felt flying giraffe ornament. Started it last night while watching The Amazing Race. Cute little guy!