Dec 23, 2009

Pre-Christmas Christmas fun

Merry Christmas Eve Eve. 2 more days til the big day, and I have already had quite a full Christmas. How is it that I am so lucky to get to have 5 Christmases??? And my family is still all together, hehe. Here are a few photos from my Christmas festivities so far

The girls in my Sunday school class have an annual Ornament swap. I got a beautiful snowy church ornament, and found out that 2 of my great friends are expecting! Congratulations Lygia and Joanna! I am so happy for you. This is a pic of my BFF Rebecca and I. We have a tradition of taking a photo together at every event. Aren't we precious? hehe.

I have seriously been in the baking mood lately, and have had some serious successes. Grandma Smithee's home made Chicken and Dumplings recipe is seriously amazing, and I had so much fun making it. I am thinking of making some of the dumplings tomorrow and freezing them to take to Missouri. I also made a batch of Peanut Butter Blossoms. So very tastey.

Saturday was Locke family Christmas at Meme and Papa's house. As usual, it was crazy, but we really had a good time getting to spend time together and open each other's presents. I got a really pretty cashmire sweater from Meme and Papa. I think it might be the first piece of clothing I have gotten from a family member that I have liked since I was a child, haha. It is super soft and has an argyle pattern on the front.

Here is a photo of the grandkids... well, the ones that were able to be there, in front of the Christmas tree and all the presents. We have so many people in the family now that Meme and Papa decided on a super small tree to save some space in the living room. I think though, that we ripped through presents in about 5 minutes and I am not sure that I saw everyone open the gifts I had brought. For all my adult, female family members, I made these:

A reminder to us all to never settle... to always try our hardest, and to always remember that we CAN do it because we are well educated, strong, capable women. I have one of these on my desk at school and it does me good to look at it every once in a while.

And of course, the funniest photo of the evening... Annabel and I. I am not going to begin to guess what she is thinking at this moment, but it makes me laugh every time I see it. So for now, may your days be merry and bright... see you after the holidays!

Dec 8, 2009

Don't Slip on the Icy Patch

Ever wondered what the absolute best Christmas movie of all time was? Well, I am here to tell you that it is "A Muppet Family Christmas." The premise of this movie is that the Muppets and the characters from Seaseme Street are hanging out at Christmas time and take a road trip up to Fozzy Bear's mom's house to celebrate. Fozzy's mom doesn't know they are all coming, so she is on her way to some warm weather destination to spend her holiday. Turns out, everyone ends up staying and having a wonderful Christmas. Kermit's son runs into the Fraggles (from Fraggle Rock), Ralph sings with a snowman, Miss Piggy makes it just in time for the festivities and everyone slipps on the icy patch outside the front door as they come in the house. How could there possibly be a better Christmas movie? It was out of print for the longest time, but this year, Amazon finally had it for under $80 (way under, don't worry, I'm not crazy enough to spend that much on a dvd). It just arrived in the mail yesterday, and I can not wait to watch it! Did I mention that the Swedish Chef prepares Christmas dinner? Yeah. He does.

I think I mentioned in one of my last posts that I am hoping to make some fun, unique gifts this year for my friends and family. Beyond tshirts and scarves, I decided quite a while back to try my hand at home made vanilla. It is an interesting and involved process that takes quite a bit of time. I started this in about September, and I think it still could use a little time to infuse. It is actually quite simple to make. I took 3-4 vanilla beans, cut them in half, scraped out the seeds and put them in a small bottle of rum. Then put the seed pods in too. Shake well and place in a cool, dark location. The key is to shake the bottle every so often - I usually remembered to shake it about once a week. It smells like vanilla now and I am going to try it out in my upcoming baking. I'll let you know how it turns out.

Christmas is one of my favorite holidays. I absolutely love the magic of it - the decorations, the frenzy of the shopping, seeing your family, giving the people you love a little something special, the food, etc etc. I read a quote lately that said something like "Don't worry about the size of your Christmas tree because in the eyes of a child, they are all 30 feet tall". That kind of encompasses how I feel about Christmas. I love to decorate my house, and often find myself walking by the tree remembering special people that gave me some of my ornaments. I have this horribly tacky ornament of a bride and groom that Aunt Jana gave me as a gag on top of a wedding present, and under most circumstances I would probably hate it, but it is so incredibly special to me that I put it right front and center of my tree and laugh everytime I see it.

Here's a photo of the tree this year. I love how you can use the same tree with the same ornaments and make it look different every year. I did find a Tree skirt this year that I absolutely love. And I am super excited about the wrapping job I have done this year for all the presents. I loooove to have a wrapping paper theme, yes I am that much of a dork. This year, I went with brown butcher paper and fun bows. I think it looks so classy and I am really loving the package of ribbon I found at Target of all places. I don't know what I was thinking spending $15 on a package of 5 types of ribbon, but my goodness they look good, haha. It is so hard to wait to let everyone open their presents!

Dec 6, 2009

Quick, What's the number for 911?

If you didn't already know, the title of this blog is a reference back to the Little Rascals. I had to start out this post with a little humor, because the events that I will be writing about aren't humorous at all.

Friday night, we had big plans to go over to a friend's house for a party. It had been a long week, so we decided to get take out and come home and watch some tv and eat dinner before we went. When Drew got home from picking up dinner, we smelled something a little unusual. We thought it was because we had turned on the heater for the first time and it smelled a little like dust burning. We didn't think much of it, and started watching an episode of Fringe (which we never finished, btw). About half an hour later, the room started filling with smoke. We were looking for the source, and moved a bookshelf out of the way to see smoke pouring in the room through one of the outlets. We called 911 and they said to get out of the house. We had enough time to throw on some shoes and a jacket (it was about 35 degrees outside) and grab the cats and get out before the fire trucks arrived. They were so fast! At one point, we had 4 fire trucks, the fire chief truck, and an ambulance in front of our house. I came to my senses as everyone was leaving and snapped this photo:
At any given time during the period they were at the house, there were at least 10 firemen filling my kitchen and den. Turns out, the outlet had caught fire because it was too old and there was too much of a power draw on the room. I was standing outside and saw a fire man dash out and grab an ax from the truck - never a good sign. They had to hack into one of the paneled walls in the den to get to the small fire and make sure the insulation and dry wall didn't catch.

This is the main damage. The floors also need to be redone from the ax and the firemen equipment. All in all, we are INCREDIBLY blessed that we were at home and were able to catch this quickly. Come to find out, the wall is lined with tar paper which could have caught fire very easily. We are thinking now that this room must have been an add on to the house and must have been built by the owner or someone who was using one of the "Add on to your house for dummies" books.

So far, we have had an electrician come out and put in a new outlet and check all the other outlets in the room to make sure there were no other problems. And we have had Tim, the guy that redid our garage, come out and look at the damage so we can get a quote for the floors and the wall. It is really looking like we might have to redo the entire room since it would be nearly impossible to match the stain on the paneling to the existing wall. That is kind of exciting, and kind of horrible all at the same time - money out of our savings at this point is never a good thing! It was definitely scary, but God definitely had control of the situation and took care of us. We are so blessed to have our house, each other, our kitties, all of our Christmas presents, our photos, and relatively small damage to take care of.

We were able to clean up the house, put a pillow over the damage and have our Progressive dinner last night for our neighborhood. I am exhausted now, but glad that we got to meet some new neighbors and have a little fun. And, I was nominated to be the Social Coordinator for the neighborhood! I hope next weekend is a little less eventful!

Dec 4, 2009

The Quilt

Here it is - The Quilt. Hand made by Juanita Smithee. She is amazing. You should see the stitches on this quilt, there have got to be at least 10-12 stitches per inch. Pardon the random assortment of crap on the shelf above - the cats somehow got up there and knocked a bunch of stuff down and this photo was before I could rearrange. Everything was just shoved back up there so it didn't get carried off to a closet (the cats tend to do that). Yes, I do have a container of salt on my shelf. It was a wedding present from my Meme. Apparently there is an old wives tale that says that you will never run out of money if you always have salt in your home, so that salt will stay on my shelf until I die, hehe. The shelf was an amazing antique store find in Missouri. Diane helped me refinish it. Wish we had photos of the before - truly an amazing transformation!

Happy December

Well, as usual, it has been quite a while since my last update. I have tried to theorize why it takes me so long to update, but I am at a loss... I really don't know why I am such a blogophobe. I am no longer apologizing for my lack of dedication to my adoring public (I actually found out the other day that I do have an adoring public, and that they are let down by my infrequent writing, haha). But there have been some interesting things going on lately, like... SNOW!

This is a photo of the snow where I work in downtown Dallas. I wish I could have captured the real beauty and magic of it... it so rarely "snows" in Dallas that when it happens, it is a major event, even if it's so wet you have to use an umbrella and it melts before it hits the ground. Not only were the students excited, but I heard a few squeals of delight from a few teachers as well. It only lasted about 2 hours, but it was nice while it lasted and helped bring a little excitement to an otherwise dragging week. With only 3 weeks between Thanksgiving break and Christmas break, it is so hard to get back in the swing of things when all you really want to do is sleep in and watch TV all day under a warm blanket. The school has been so cold during this week that I feel like I need gloves when I type up stories and ads for the Yearbook, haha. It's really hard to help your students with printmaking while you are wearing 2 jackets!

So, Christmas is in 22 days... I am super excited about giving gifts to my friends and family. I tried my hardest to do some hand mades this year for most of my list. I hope that there are a few people that won't check my blog for the next couple of weeks so that i don't ruin any surprises! I made my BFF some fuzzy bunny slippers for Christmas (I think I might have already posted a photo of some others I made in a previous post). I am giving my cousin one of my awesome paintings, a couple people will get hand made scarves, and my favorite thing: screen printed tshirts. I am so excited that I learned how to do this, and I have just been close to obsessed with this process lately. Here are a couple of shirts that I made:

I bought some really nice recycled organic cotton tshirts from my friend, freelisa. Who also prints really nice tshirts that you can find here, or at Make in Bishop Arts District. I originally made the screen for the black shirt on the left for my hubby since he is a scientist extraordinaire, but I ordered the wrong size shirt for him, so instead I made one for myself, haha. He will get his eventually, just have to order a new shirt. The one on the right is for my seester (that's sister in Locke family speak if you didn't know), and also made a more kid friendly version for my cousin, Gillian. I have had to tell some people (though I am sure that if you are reading my blog, you are much more intellegent than the average joe on the street!) - it says "Courage My Dear". The reason I made this is to be a constant reminder to have courage and strength. My family has gone through a lot over the past few years, and we all need a little reminder to keep our chin up. I think I might also screen some posters of this as well and give them to friends and family - I would like to have this right above my desk at school to remind myself to stay positive and strong! I already have a cut out from a magazine that says "Attack this like the wild, crazy, yet highly intellegent woman you are". Hmm... maybe that will be my next shirt idea! Yay blog!

In the next post, I will show you my beautiful new quilt that Grandma Smithee made for me. Also stay tuned for Christmas decoration photos!