Thursday, December 31, 2009


This year I have really only one resolution, and it is one that I have been considering for a very long time, but seriously planning for the past several months. Inspired by bloggers like Dottie Angel and her "Challenge of the Utmost Kind," and The Non-Consumer Advocate, groups like The Compact, and films like The Story of Stuff, I have decided that for the entire year I will not be purchasing newly manufactured goods for myself or my home. For a long time I've been fairly thrifty, but now I feel deeply that I need to step away from consumerism as I have known it, and get back to real values in my life.

Of course I know this will be challenging, and like everyone I've read I do have a short list of things I will buy new, like underwear & socks, shoes (though I have enough shoes already to last through my adult life,) basic supplies for my favorite hobby that can't be done any other way, and some gifts for others. I mention that because although I will lean toward greener gifts in the future, I still want to present a loved one with something they truly want. However I will be more thoughtful about my purchases, and always try to by local, handmade or ethically produced goods when I need to make a purchase of a new item.

I am sure I will be writing about this as the year proceeds and as individual topics arise. For now I just want to state my intention, and really consider the reasons I'm doing this. I chose the above picture because it reminds me that my life is so very full of bounty and goodness, that I don't need to run out and buy a few more things to make it full. I am blessed beyond anything I could have imagined, and I have enough of everything I could possibly need.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

2009: what worked, and what didn't

Doing my annual assessment of the year. First and foremost getting serious about doing lots of date nights was indispensable.

The garden was great and totally worth the effort and expense.

We ate and ate and ate from it. Next year I won't do so much eggplant's okay, but gets a little monotonous. I also learned that I can eat fresh lettuce in Ohio in April and still be eating it in early December.

Next year, I must plant the marigolds all the way around the garden. The year I did that, it really worked out keeping out the critters. This year I did not, and the bunnies and groundhogs used my vegetable patch as a salad bar.

A big score this year: the neighbors were giving away free garden stones! My strawberries will be able to sprawl in peace next spring!

I lost a few pounds a few pounds and looked great for a few months, lol, then gained a few back. This year I will at least feel confident that I have the know-how to do it right this time.

What I learned the hard way about jam: strain it good, and get some pectin for insurance.

Lesson learned: get two bags of apples. Or go apple picking a few times.

Creating a little art space for myself was definitely a good thing. I did a ton of scrapbooking just in the last month.

Making crafts for gifts was a real joy.

I really enjoyed Kari's Year of Color blog, and it really opened my mind to artistic pursuits.

I joined two swaps this year to motivate myself toward crafting and meeting new people.

Sadly, and I mean this with sincerity, I think I was out of my league and was given much more generous, thoughtful and well crafted gifts than I gave. In the new year I think I will put the brakes on swaps for a while.

Another weird thing about this year of crafting: I now have a lot of things in my house that I'm not too sure about. (In a day or two I will write about my frustration with stuff.) Plus I spent a lot of time on the swaps, and on various household crafts, leaving very little time for the three main things I wanted to do, which were scrapbooking, illustrated personal journaling and my altered book.

Additionally I spent a lot on supplies and vintage finds, and a lot of it is just sitting there. I did make a few sales on Etsy, but I also question whether it is worth the time and effort.

A simple thing to do next year: plant these Velvet Queen sunflowers all over the back yard.

The best times this year were with these two guys and their dad. :-)

Finally, I am so happy to have made a few friends in blogland this year! Thanks for your support and encouragement! May you have a blessed 2010!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Cool Stuff Under the Tree

I tried my best to seek out meaningful and thoughtful gifts this year. I have to brag a bit on the robes I made for the boys: Zack said "Wow! A robe of my very own!" when he opened it and couldn't believe I actually made it myself.

My brother in law saved the day by finding a source for boozy Asbach candies, which all of the sudden are illegal to sell in Ohio.

Brother in law also brought Trader Joe's Peppermint Bark and Jeni's Riesling Poached Pear Sorbet, because he knew I really needed a few more calories (and believe me I will enjoy each and every one!) Another edible gift, unpictured, was from my brother in law's mom, Deb. She came for Christmas morning bearing a fresh pan of mac and cheese she had made that morning, so that we wouldn't have to worry about cooking dinner. How awesome is that?

Husband is starting to get into my goal of buying pre-owned or handmade: he used my wishlist and got me handmade and vintage aprons.

Probably my favorite goody, also from Etsy: vintage art deco ring with my birthstone, aquamarine.

Kind of a funny find: I got husband flames to put on his netbook. Pretty sweet, eh?

The gift that keeps on giving: thousands of supertiny legos have kept the boys of every age busy for three solid days!

Could I ask for a better (hopefully) future sister in law? Not only did they give me a card to the best place ever, she made the card herself!

For my brother we got a friend to finish the afghan my mother started for him before she died. The amusing part is the friend who did it lives in Michigan...she said she would hide it when company came by! Check her out at Magikjaz Creations!

Our little drummer boy has proven himself worthy by practicing hard at his lessons this year, so his Oma and uncle got him a snare!

We thought these were so funny: my brother in law likes to build things on his desk, so we got him the silly blocks from Starbucks. He seemed to like them.

Without a doubt the oddest gift of the year was a quesadilla maker from my mother in law. We really aren't into unitaskers, but hey we like quesadillas.

Best gift of all: a dusting of snow on the 26th, once we were all home and the festivities of Christmas behind us, gifts cleaned up, and children tucking into bed.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Homemade Christmas Goodies

Today was our big cookie decorating day!

The husband is thankfully home for vacation until the rest of the year, so he got to join the fun for a change.

He is so much more creative than he thinks he is...his cookies rock!

I made a point this year of getting all the boring and tedious bits of Christmas, like the shopping, out of the way, so that the big week would be full of fun. And it worked. This is a little banner I made this week.

Luminary candles I made for a few good women I know.

I put the boys to work a bunch this week. Not only did they participate in the fun stuff, they also offered to clean the kitchen with me too!

Zack's activity idea: give all of our guests a gingerbread person to decorate. I just love having a first grader around! I'm sure we will all have fun!

More responsibilities: for a good time, hand your kids the wrapping paper, safety scissors and tape, tell them they are in charge of the gift wrapping, then grab a warm beverage and let the hilarity ensue! The results may not be pretty, but they will have fun, and it's one less job for you!

Okay, I am so proud of these: I made these bathrobes for the boys! I've never sewn a garment before. They aren't perfect, but they definitely resemble robes.

I hope all my blogland friends have a very Merry Christmas, and I can't wait to see all your pictures after the holidays! Cheers!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Making ready for Christmas

Celebrating the solstice by getting the "lack of a mantle" in order. On chilly days like today I wonder if we maybe should have got a house with a fireplace, but still I am glad for a warm house!

Here's a funny thing: Zack's teacher sent a little gift home for all the classroom volunteers, and although it's just a token, I swear it brought tears to my eyes. I think perhaps I was caught off guard in the midst of this busy Christmas season by someone thinking of me. I was tickled to have my very own candy cane!

Spent our weekend doing things with my mother-in-law's German club. The children's party was Saturday, and one of the gifts they sent home was a foam gingerbread house kit, which gave us something to do when we got home! We also got to hear a beautiful concert given by the German and Swiss clubs, which included Alpenhorns and Yodelers, capped with dinner a German Restaurant. In retrospect I wish I had taken more pictures! Frohliche Weinachten!

At least the stockings are hung. The stockings are my favorite part.

Despite coughs and sneezes that are keeping us indoors, we are making quite merry today!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Misc Christmas Happenings

We've been pretty busy getting ready for the holidays.

Today was Nathan's preschool program.

Ken got the day off work so we could go.

We got our Polar Express up and running, but only barely. There's a short in a wire, so we will need to replace it. Not so easy considering modern "stuff" is made to be trashed not repaired, but we will figure stuff out. Also note the tree skirt made by my's reversible, and this year we are going for the ornament side.

A cool craft made from existing materials...5 boxes of thrift store ornaments, a coat hanger, and thrift store ribbon. Obviously not my own idea, I've been seeing these all over the internet. One word to the wise: if you do this, be sure to use a glue gun to attach each and every ornament to its metal cuff and wire. When you don't, every time you move it three or four will fall off. Then, when you try to put them back on, more will fall off. (Did I mention I actually made this twice? Husband, aka "the one with the common sense" actually suggested using the glue gun before I even started, but of course I was in a hurry and paid no attention.)

We trimmed the tree as a family with my in laws. Literally every branch has an ornament with some kind of story behind it.

Sadly our angel wouldn't light this year...checked the fuses and every bulb, but couldn't figure it out. Did I mention that modern stuff is made to be trashed and replaced? Well, I decided that the angel doesn't need to be lit up, so I removed the strand of lights from her and put her up there anyway, and she looks just beautiful as she is.

I am so looking forward to this Christmas!