Friday, December 30, 2011

Dec. 2 Yard--early winter

I forgot to take my first-of-month photo on December 1, so these were taken on December 2 to complete my year-long project of chronicling the state of my yard every month in 2011.Winter has been slow to start this year. We had a snowfall on November 30, which was still on the ground two days later when I took these photos, but it melted shortly thereafter, and the flurries we've had here and there since then haven't stuck. It keeps raining!
It's been nice not to have to bundle up, but I am not fooled. I know we will eventually get slammed, and my fear is that winter will hold us in it's grip until the end of April, like it did last year.

Christmas Bear on the front porch. I bought him when my children were very young. He lights up and changes color at night.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Two finishes for Christmas

I finished this little tree in time for Christmas! I saw this over on Karen's blog last year and thought it was so cute, so I tracked down the pattern for myself. (Oh Tannenbaum, by With Thy Needle and Thread). I followed the instructions exactly, which meant I had to coffee stain the fabric before stitching. I had never stained fabric before, so I considered skipping that step, but it's always fun to try a new technique. We are not coffee drinkers, though, so I asked my husband to check the break room at his office to see if he could find some instant. He couldn't find any (I think he didn't know what to look for!), so he ended up stopping at a fast food restaurant on the way home to bring me a cup of coffee. Ha, so bizarre to imagine him ordering coffee at a drive-through!

This next little ornament is from a Mill Hill kit.
My daughter's best friend is obsessed with all things popcorn, so I made this for her. Those Mill Hill kits are always a fun, quick stitch.

I am trying to get one more ornament stitched to give as a gift, and I still have some gifts-from-the-kitchen I need to make, not to mention preparing food for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day meals, so it's busy here. I'm sure you all are busy, too. All the blogs I like to read have been so quiet lately. I think everyone is trying to get stuff done! For those of you celebrating Christmas, have a joyous holiday, and thanks for stopping by this space.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

I mog di

One of the booths at Christkindlmarkt had lovely little pewter ornaments from Munich. I was admiring them, trying to choose between an edelweiss and a stocking, when I spied this ornament made to look like a lebkuchenherz. Tears immediately sprang to my eyes. My love for hearts is well known, but this time it was the "I mog di" that did me in. My Oma moved to the U.S. when she was in her 60s, and she never did learn English. She was from the southern part of Germany, so she didn't say "Ich liebe dich." In her dialect, the words for I love you were "I mog di." (Pronunciation: "E mawg dee", at least the way she said it!) I can still hear her voice saying "I mog di" to me. I had never seen her words for I Love You spelled out before. I guess I assumed it was her own slang and therefore didn't realize "I mog di" could actually be spelled out that way! Seeing it spelled out on a heart-shaped ornament made me feel like she stopped by for one of her fierce hugs. I had to pull out a tissue and blow my nose.

I bought one for my sister, too, even though technically we aren't supposed to buy things for each other. She's getting it for Christmas. I can't wait to see her reaction.

I hung mine in my kitchen where I see it all the time.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Thanksgiving weekend trip

After spending a lovely and yummy Thanksgiving day with my parents and my sisters and their families, my own little family traveled to Chicago for the rest of the holiday weekend. I wanted to see the Christkindlmarkt, which runs from Thanksgiving to Christmas Eve.

We spent a lot of time walking around the city.
For the first time on a Chicago trip, we did not visit American Girl or the Lego store. Shopping was not our goal that weekend, but having the children be content not visiting their old favorites gave me a little pang.

I took this next photo because I liked how that lone dress looked in the window. It's begging to tell a story:

All the store fronts were decked out for Christmas:
Gritty scenes blend right in with the glitz in a big city:
We spent some time at Shedd Aquarium. Geez Louise that place is expensive.
I love the architecture in Chicago.
We also went to the Art Institute of Chicago. I hadn't been there since 1985! I wanted to see the Thorne Rooms. These miniature rooms are built to the scale of one inch to one foot, and represent European and American furnishings and architecture across the centuries. Some of them are decorated for Christmas to accurately reflect holiday decorating for the time and place of the room.

I love this alcove bed!
We saw some famous paintings, including this one:
A recent(ish) issue of Midwest Living had an article featuring the woman who currently lives in the American Gothic house, but sadly, they didn't show any photos of the interior. The article did say that her lease requires her to keep lace curtains in those iconic windows.

I got excited over the painting below because I had a pack of Doublemint gum in my purse.
The Chagall Windows are absolutely stunning.

I tried to get my husband to kiss me in front of them, but he refused. Oh, well, neither one of us is that fond of Ferris Bueller anyway, even though he was of our era.
Obligatory self portrait in the Bean. I am the one wearing the striped scarf and carrying the dotted bag:

Oops, the jelly fish photo was supposed to go up in the aquarium section, but it's too hard to move photos in Blogger (for me, anyway).
The Christkindlmarkt was way too crowded on Friday afternoon. It was sunny and in the mid 50s, and I think everyone in a 300 mile radius tried to squeeze into the plaza. We couldn't move, we couldn't breathe, we couldn't see a thing, so we left, and came back the next evening when it was raining.

Much less crowded, and very beautiful! I wouldn't recommend making a special trip to Chicago just to see the market, but if you are there anyway, or can plan to see other things, it's definitely worth a look. Just wait until it rains.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011


My family is fine, but other families in my life are not right now, so my Thanksgiving post must wait, and my Christmas decorating must wait, while we mourn for a life that was much, much too short, and do what we can to help support the grieving parents and siblings.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Some stitching!

A while ago I promised I'd be focusing on cross stitch only on the crafting front, and that is indeed what I have done these past few months. It feels good to get some of these back-logged projects finished! I am gearing up to start another holiday piece, but I do admit, I am suddenly feeling an urge to knit. Knitting is not the most zen thing for me to do, though, so I'm surprised I am thinking about it. I'll keep you posted if knit happens!

First up, from Bent Creek's photobooth series, Northpole Party Pics:
I just loved these three characters when I saw them. Pointy-hatted elves get me every time, and I adore the expressions on the faces of Santa and the reindeer in the third "photo."

The linen is a little bit warped, but if I take it in for framing, they can straighten it out for me.

I shared this next piece on Flickr a while ago, but here it is now, officially blogged:
Schoolgirl Lessons, by Little House Needleworks.
Who doesn't love reading, writing, and stitching?

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Before and After

I always like getting sneak peeks into people's homes, so I thought I'd do a little tour of my living room.

We've lived in this house for 17 years. It's our first house. A lot of people don't stay in the first home they buy, but this home has worked for us and we've been happy here. It's not perfect, and it's not fancy, but it really suits our personalities.

I took these photos in September, the day that I was waiting for an interior designer to come do a consultation. For years I wanted to have an interior designer come help me arrange my furniture. I'm very confident in choosing colors and furniture by myself, but when it comes to arrangement, I tend to plunk things down and never ever move them because I don't have a clue where things should go.

Here it is before the designer saw it.

Bookcase in the middle of the big wall. Piano next to it. Tree by dining room arch:
Couch under window, chair at a right angle to it. Table "belongs" to couch:

It's nice enough. It's fairly spacious. I didn't want to fill the room up with furniture, but I wanted to add a bit more seating if possible.

Now here is what it looks like after the interior designer moved some things and made some suggestions. (I did end up doing a little shopping and bought two new pieces.)
Ta da!

The couch is now centered under the window. The bookcase is next to the couch (I never would have thought of that!!!). The chair is turned at an angle, and the table now "belongs" to the chair. The tree moved from the dining room arch to the corner behind the couch.

The decorator suggested a coffee table, but I really didn't want a coffee table in the middle of the room, so I decided to get an ottoman instead. The ottoman can be used as a coffee table, but it can also serve as extra seating, and it is easily pushed out of the way if we need the floor space. Plus, if we had a coffee table, the kids would just put their feet on it, so why not get something that is actually designed to have feet on it?

The decorator also suggested moving the piano to be centered on the big wall, but that didn't float my boat. If the piano were centered, that would leave awkward empty space on either side of it--too big to look good, but not big enough to do anything with it--so I opted to leave the piano as-is and get an accent chair:
I need to fix the art work on that wall. It was hung around that bookcase being there, but now without the bookcase, it looks awkward. I am going to keep the photo over the piano, but my plan for over the chair is to hang four separately framed blackwork pieces. I'll get to that after the holidays.

So that's my "new" living room! I liked it before, but I think it looks more pulled together now. My only fear is, where are we going to put the Christmas tree? I think we'll have to remove a chair for the holidays!