Wednesday, January 31, 2018

In With the New

How did it get to be the end of January already?  I have been wanting to write this all month, but never seemed to make the time for it.  I really want to sneak this in before the end of this first month of the year.

Back in December, I used Jen Fulwiler's Saint's Name Generator to get my patron saint for the upcoming year.   It seems like I have been split fifty-fifty in getting saints that I know versus ones I never heard of before.  Sometimes it feels like playing Russian Roulette.  Will I get a saint I like?  When I first started doing this years ago, I decided that I have to "keep" whatever saint I get.  I figure that there has got to be a reason, other than pure randomness, that the saint was chosen for me. 

This year, at least for a moment, I was tempted to chose another.  When I clicked the button, I was awarded St. Ignatius of Loyola.  Unfortunately, I don't have the highest opinion of the priestly order he founded.  Usually when I see something of our Catholic faith misrepresented by a priest, many, if not most of the times, it is a Jesuit. 

I went to a Jesuit university, and although I know I received a good education, I'm not sure I got a good Catholic one.  But, as I write that, I wonder if that says more about me than it does the university.  Since I have my "must keep who I get" rule, I think I will use this year to learn more not only about this saint, but about my faith as well.


AMDG

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

WIP(#12) - Fleeced!

After I finished my latest quilt, I put the sewing machine away for the holidays.  The only "crafting" I did after that was to cross stitch my cousin's name on his Christmas stocking.  He recently moved relatively close by from Florida, and it was the first Christmas he spent with us.  And you know it just wouldn't be a proper Christmas without an "named" stocking!
Now that the holidays are over and the house is back to being boring without all the decorations, the sewing machine is about to reappear.  I have a few things on my project list: a fleece jacket for me, pajama pants for Himself, and a quilt for a long awaited and prayed for baby.

I'm starting with the jacket below as it will be helpful in these cold, cold months.  I've had the fleece in my stash for almost ten years and the pattern was just a dollar at one of Joann Fabric's Christmas sales.  I have never sewn fleece clothing before, so we'll see how this goes.

AMDG

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Jump Start (6): The Adventures of Jack, part 3 – or one smart puppy (aka Draft Folder cleanup, take two)

Clean up, take two.  Just like week three.  Again, again!

I wrote this back in February 2014.  I had it scheduled to post, but apparently never hit "Publish".  So, I suppose it is about time I did.

Since he was already 14 weeks old when we got him, we weren’t sure how house broken Jack was. We decided it probably wouldn’t be a good idea for him to sleep upstairs in our bedroom. Our sunroom has an older rug and concrete floors so we decided that would be the best place for him to spend the night. We took turns sleeping on the couch with Jack by our side. I don’t think he really had too many accidents, he was a quick learner.

Once he knew he needed to go outside to do his business, we decided to teach him to tell us when it was time. We bought a cowbell down in Amish country and a hook to hang it on by the back door. Before we had a chance to install the hook, we gave him a little demonstration. We rang the bell then opened the door.

Until we could hang it up, for lack of a better place to put the bell, we stored it in a basket that was hanging by the door. A day later we found Jack up on the couch nudging the basket. He knew where the bell was and he needed to go out. After one demo he had caught on – we knew then we had one smart dog!
Jack - January 2018

AMDG

Sunday, January 21, 2018

TToT(19): Jumping Back In

I knew it's been a while since I did one of these, but I was surprised to see that it has been well over a year.  Jumping back in. . . .

one: Yesterday's high temp and today's forecasted one are in the forties.  That feels like a heat wave after weeks where we have been lucky to hit twenty.
two:  Since the Hairy Beast still insists on walk, no mater how cold it is, I found these thermal long johns are a life saver.  I may or may not have acquired them in four different colors.

three: I have been cooking more since we've been mostly housebound.  We canned cherries last summer and they made the best filling for crepes.
four: Speaking of cooking, the crock pot has been getting used a lot.  I've got stew in it now and earlier in the week we had ribs.  So easy and so good.

five: I have been reading a lot more lately.  Last year, my Goodreads goal was forty books and I think I surpassed that by four or five.  If I keep up the pace, this year I should do even better than that.  I bought myself a kindle last year and love it.  Our library system has an electronic section and I have been reading things I might not have otherwise.

six: We cut the cable cord back in November.  Our cable company is now requiring that we use an interface box for which they were eventually going to charge us.  We only had basic, over the air cable which we now get via antennas.  The same stations, but free.  Got to love that.

seven:  I have felt like I lost my mojo writing here.  So, I decided to get a Jumpstart on writing more regularly by creating a linkup.  I am so grateful for the ladies that joined in with me.  Being accountable for getting the link out there each week has been helpful.  And, reading what everyone has written has been enjoyable.

eight:  I needed a calendar for my office at work and was trying to find one I really liked.  On a business trip a week or so ago, a coworker gave me a belated Christmas gift - a calendar from the local animal rescue.  And a week before that, I won one from the local quilt shop.  An embarrassment of riches!

nine: I recently got hooked on the TV show Rizzoli and Isles. I was getting the DVDs from the library, but they didn't have all the seasons. When I searched online for the show, Hulu had it and they had a month trial for free.  Once I finished that series, I started watching The Librarians.  What a fun show!   It's like Harry Potter for adults.

ten: And mostly, I am thankful for the hundreds of thousands of people that showed up for the March for Life this past Friday.  My guess is that if you watched network news, you probably never knew it happened.  But it did.  Check out the time lapse video

Check out more goodness at
AMDG

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Jump Start (5): Burning Down the House

Burning Down the House   The fires out in California are truly frightening.  If you had to evacuate quickly, and everyone was safe, what things would you grab?
 
Two summers ago, I think it was August of 2016, Himself and I were sitting on the patio having our coffee and breakfast.  We had just gotten back from our weekly Saturday morning hike with the hairy beast.  We started hearing sirens.  The fire department is southeast of us, maybe two miles as the crow flies.  The sirens then started coming from all directions.  Since our little township has a volunteer department, larger incidents - fires and accidents, and such - require the assistance of neighboring departments.  This sounded like one of those.  That couldn't be good.
 
We found out later that a house roughly a mile to the west caught fire and the occupants, warned by their smoke detectors, all got out safely.  It took the fire departments the better part of the day to get the fire under control and then extinguished.  The family, parents and their two young daughters, lost everything they owned.
 
It seems that there has been a large fire somewhere in the township annually for the last few years.  Last summer a garage and part of a house in the opposite direction of the fire above was the latest to succumb to flames.  A few years before that, another township resident lost his barn and the cars he was restoring to fire.
 
All of that got me thinking.  If I had to make a quick getaway, what would I grab? 
 
Most everything in our home is just that, a thing.  Heck, if all my clothes disappeared, I might actually be glad.  Getting to start my wardrobe over could be a plus.  Furniture, books, dishes, appliances and such could all be replaced. 
 
There are a couple of items, though, that given the chance, I would grab.  The very first item I would gather is my engagement ring.  I don't always wear it as my fingers have "grown" just a little since Himself first put it on me.  That ring represents the start of us
 
If I could get to it, I would try to take this computer, or at least the hard drive on which it is backed up.  The computer itself could be replaced, and the way it has been working lately, probably should be.  All of our pictures are digital these days and those I would love to have.  They are memories, moments in time, things that intrigued us, made us smile.
 
The other item I would take is my quilt.  Mom was an amazing seamstress.  She made all sorts of clothes and household items.  As much as she sewed, she never took up quilting, that was my thing.  But, about a year before she died, she gave quilting a shot.  She picked one of the most intricate and difficult patterns I've seen and probably never will try.  The last Christmas present she gave me was the quilt you see below. 
 
 
 
I pray none of us ever, ever needs to make that mad dash. 

AMDG
 

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Jump Start (4): Guess who's coming to dinner?

Guess who's coming to dinner?  Living or dead, who would you invite?


I used to have a book that contained questions that were supposed to spark long, thoughtful conversations.  I don't remember using it all that much or even if it proved useful.  But, one of the questions was this week's topic.  If you could invite anyone, from any time in history, to dinner, who would it be?

Would you invite someone that played a great role in history like Thomas Jefferson or Atilla the Hun?  Or someone that helped form the basis of your faith like Jesus or one of the saints.  Maybe you would invite a relative that lived long before you were born or an entertainer that you admire.

It didn't take me long to figure out who I would invite.  And, my guess is that at least one of them isn't much of a surprise.  I would chose as my guests G.K. Chesterton, St. John Paul the Great, and Leila from Little Catholic Bubble.

These are three people from whom I have learned so much, both in content and in style.  All three speak of truths that are timeless.  They all teach me how to speak of what is right and good and just.

It has been said the Chesterton could vehemently debate someone and then go have plesant drink or dinner with them.  One of his more famous debates was with Clarence Darrow.  I see much of the same thoughtfullness and care in discussions that Leila has had on both her blog and on Facebook.  She engages and challenges people on topics where they hold positions diametrically opposed to what she knows is right.  I don't know how she does it.  The irrationality of some of those people would drive me batty and I'm afraid I would be less than charitable in my responses to them.

St. John Paul not only spoke the truth, he lived it.  His teachings and many writings reminded us of the value and inherit goodness of each and every human life.  He was such a vital and brilliant man who was physically cut down by such a horrible disease but still led his flock.  That is an example I need to remember as I get older.

I get the feeling that an afternoon with these three would be a delightful meandering of thoughtful dialog.  It would be one of those conversations where one topic leads to another and another and by the end of the day you're not sure how you got where you did.  But you are certainly glad you did.

“The object of opening the mind, as of opening the mouth, is to shut it again on something solid.”

AMDG

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Jump Start (3): A List-less Summer (aka Draft Folder cleanup)

Draft folder clean up.  We all have those unfinished posts that hide out in our draft folder, on scrap pieces of paper, or in Word documents.  Finish one up, now.

I think I have about twenty partially started posts in my draft folder and who knows how many on scraps of paper.  I think I needed to finish this one, to remind myself of warmer seasons.  Yesterday's high actually made it into double digits, 11 degrees, unlike what it is going to be like later in the week.  Brrr!

The past few years we have created a Sand Pail list for the summer.  The list was just a bunch of ideas of fun things to do.  Some of the things included trying out a new winery or brewery, going to a concert or the county fair or the local parade. 

We didn't create that list this summer.  It didn't matter.  Actually, maybe it was better.  I didn't have that feeling like I needed to cross one more thing off a list.  I didn't have to keep track of what, if anything, we were doing for fun.

We did all sorts of good stuff - a few concerts, a new, local winery, and even a baseball game.  But it felt a little more laid back, less scheduled.

One day during my summer week off from work, we started out for Amish country.  In the first five minutes of what was going to be several hours on the road, we met every incapable, bad, dangerous driver that there could possibly be.  We decided the aggravation wasn't worth it and turned around. 

We stopped at local garden center to pick up some plants for the front yard.  After that we headed to a local farmer's stand where they also sell outdoor furniture.  We picked out a couple of Adirondack chairs.  Best purchase, ever.

They are a great place to rest after gardening or to have an adult beverage after work.  Where we have them, under a tree on the hill, is perfect for watching the world, and all sorts of birds, go by.  There's a great breeze that is pleasantly cool on a hot summer day.  It's a great place to decide which concert or winery we want to visit.

Who needs a list?  We've got chairs!



AMDG

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Photo Blogging Challenge (December 2017): Holly Jolly

For a number of years we have talked about going to Stan Hwyet's "Deck the Hall" Christmas event.  We finally made it earlier this month, and it was spectacular!  Over one million lights decorated the property.  We will definitely be back next year.

The large trees in front of the Manor House had snow flakes hung high up in the top branches.  They looked beautiful alongside the year's only full supermoon.

The Music Room had multiple trees and numerous other decorations.

Stan Hwyet is staffed mostly by volunteers, without whom the place could not function.  This gentleman was directing to flow of visitors inside the house and was answering questions as well.

One of the many decorated Christmas trees inside the house.  Each one seemed to be prettier than the last.  This one is in the Great Hall.

The house and lights shined brightly in the reflecting pool. 

Bonus: There is a courtyard by the Carriage House that was setup to look like an old village square.  A large, decorated Christmas tree was set in the center and little chalets surrounded it, selling all sorts of treats.  In the window of the Carriage House was decorated to look like a bake shop.  The children seemed to love it.
 
To see more, visit A 'lil Hoohaa

AMDG

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Jump Start Week 2, Take 2

aka On the Third Day of Christmas

I think I was beging a little optimistic that I could write weekly, this time of the year.  After all, there is much merriment to be had!  I am hoping that is has been the same for you as well.

So, what is your favorite Christmas memory?  Perhaps it was long ago.  Or, maybe it was this year.  Inquiring minds want to know!

Week three is being postponed to next week.  Jump on in with Week 2.

AMDG

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Jump Start (2): Remember When?


I was all set to write about the Christmas that I gave my dad a bird, whether he wanted it or not.  But, a glass of wine and a walk with the dog tonight got me thinking about our first, married Christmas.  Better story.  Much better one.

Himself and I were married at the beginning of October.  About ten weeks after that we were planning on hosting both of our families for Christmas Day celebrations and dinner.  And, of course, that meant everything had to be perfect.

We were living in the fixer upper house that I had purchased a few years earlier.  I had done some remodeling, but the living room still wasn’t complete.  Let’s just say it needed a lot of work.

Before the wedding we had refinished the hardwood floors.  They were stained where the previous owner’s carpet had stuck to the floor when wet.  We won’t go into how it got wet, other than it involved a cat.

The paint on the walls was peeling in a number of spots, the result of painting over cigarette smoke stains.  For Christmas to be perfect, that had to be remedied.  We picked out paint and found material for matching curtains.  We ordered blinds and an area rug.  I sewed and Himself painted.

Three days before Christmas we took a break from those chores and drove down to Amish country for a sofa table that we just had to have to make the room complete.  Since I had used all my vacation time for our honeymoon, we had to make the seventy-five minute drive after work.  Remember, this is December.  It gets dark early.  And, there are no lights along the hilly back roads.  It was somewhat light when we started out, but after we had loaded the table in the backseat of my car, it was pitch black.  As I drove, Himself kept a look out for the black buggies and dark horses for which the Amish are known.  Thankfully, we didn’t meet any up close and personal!

Two days later, on Christmas Eve, the painting was finally done, the blinds and curtains were hung, and the new table put in place.  But one thing was missing.  We didn’t have a tree.

I had remembered seeing a Christmas tree lot at the local Protestant church.  We drove down there and all the trees were dumped in a big pile.  We decided to try another place down the road, a florist shop, but they were sold out.

Back to the church we went.  We dug through pile and found something that didn’t look too beat up.  We knocked on the rectory door, hoping to find someone to pay for our find.  No one was around.  We “stole” our first Christmas tree!

We furiously decorated the tree, only taking a break to go to my parents’ house for Christmas Eve dinner.  The next morning we were up early to go to Mass and get the cooking underway.  I prepared a big turkey dinner that we served on our wedding china and crystal.

By the end of the day we were  exhausted, but happy.  It was perfect.  We got to celebrate Christmas as a new family.

That living room, not that year
AMDG