Wednesday, December 28, 2011

12/27/11--Tool Basket

My latest basket project--a Tool Basket that I completed on 12/27/11 (yes, I missed watching my Boilermakers in the Little Caesar's Bowl to make a basket!).

It was more advanced that anything I had done before, so it took a long time to weave this basket, but I love the finished project!  I had twined before and made a braided rim before, but using a wooden base and randing (the diagonal blue pattern in the "middle" of the basket) was all new to me. Actually, I am scared to death of the braiding, but you do get in a comfortable rhythm doing it and it does go quickly.  I repeat the pattern to myself to make sure I do it correctly.  I'm sure I drive my classmates crazy! :-)

I'll be taking it back to the shop sometime to have it stained a light walnut color.  It will give the natural reed in the basket a nice hue and also make the blues more prominent.  I chose the blues to go with my Pfaltzgraff Yorktowne dishes :-)

Basketworks and More, where I took the class, is the new shop opened by Cheryl McKinsey Dixon, who is the person I originally learned to weave baskets from (at her old shop "The Basketworks", which was located on Earl Avenue in Lafayette).  It's located in the West Lafayette Payless shopping plaza; stop by to see her baskets and her jewelry as well as sampling the coffees and teas she carries.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

It's Winter...

"Watching You Watching Me" by Lowell Herrero
We have snow today in beautiful Lafayette, IN.  It's messy snow, very heavy and slushy, but it is white outside nonetheless.

This print, "Watching You Watching Me" is by the American folk artist Lowell Herrero and I thought it fit the day today.  Enjoy!

First Draft, My 2012 Resolutions

Yes, I believe in resolutions for the coming New Year and try very hard to stick with them.  I unintentionally stuck with one halfway through 2011; I did lose about 25-30 pounds by starting to exercise each day (30 minutes of walking) and being smarter about portion sizes when eating.  I have fallen out of the habit a bit, so guess what's going on the 2012 list?

This is my first draft for the coming year.  A lot of ideas have been floating around in my head and I want to get them on paper (so to speak) so I can be held accountable :-) :

  • Start incorporating exercise back into my daily activities
  • Rein myself in on my eating habits
  • Dr. Preuss, I promise to start flossing daily :-)
  • Make a dent in the Visa card balance
  • Continue to be a smarter shopper
  • Continue my creative journey--keep doing the things I enjoy, discover new outlets
  • Finish home improvement projects as finances allow
  • Look for the joy in every single day, because it's there if you do look for it
  • Keep in touch with friends--new ones, long time ones, ones I don't know I have yet
  • Give back
  • Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle
Seems like a long list--but they are all doable to me. Happy 2012 to you and enjoy the blessings, the small things, because some day you will look back and realize they really were the big things.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

An Artsy Christmas, Gift #2

"Santa's Coming To Town" by Charles Wysocki
Dropping by for just a few with a little Christmas present for you.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Great Songs For Christmas: "Sleigh Ride", Exhibit D

Just like a comfortable sweatshirt and pair of jeans, this version of "Sleigh Ride", recorded by the Boston Pops Orchestra under the direction of the venerable Arthur Fiedler, is the one you return to all the time.  And just like curling up in the chair by the window, watching the snow fall while sipping from a cup of hot chocolate, this version brings smiles and satisfaction to just about all who hear it.

Close your eyes and listen to each section perform their part of this very catchy Christmas tune--horns, winds, strings, percussion.  It is a musician's dream and a vehicle back to pleasant memories of holidays past for all the rest of us.

It is, IMHO, an impeccably classic arrangement of this Christmas legend.  Listen to it, and I dare you to keep from tapping your toes or singing along to the grand musical score.

Yes, Virginia...

Layaway Angels Appear At Lafayette Kmart

Yep, I am a resident of Lafayette, Indiana.  Not the most exciting place on earth, but a good place to grow up, a good place to spend a normal Midwestern life.  And at this very moment, after watching this story (see the link above) on the news this morning, I can honestly say I am very proud to be from Lafayette, Indiana.

The nightly news is always full of the bad things; murders, robberies, wars, intolerance, ripoffs, greed.  But this old world just happens to have something else very wonderful going for it; good people who are decent, moral, and still care for their fellow man.

Seems there are some very kind Santa's elves making their way into the Lafayette Kmart and paying off people's holiday layaway accounts.  Not just the small ones, either.  Bills of up to $300.00 have been.  A person who came in to pay off their layaway, upon finding that their account had been paid in full, paid off another layaway of someone completely unknown to them.

Christmas spirit at its finest, folks.  We all know how to do it, and these angels on earth are walking the walk and talking the talk.  Can this spirit be bottled and opened up throughout the year as needed?  The world would certainly be a better place for it.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Great Songs For Christmas: "Aspenglow"

This is more of a winter song than specifically a Christmas or holiday tune, but "Aspenglow" by the late John Denver has to be what gently falling snow sounds like when set to music.

Everything about this song--the vocals, the instrumentals, the simple lyrics--shines crystal clear.  It's such a nice close-your-eyes-and-dream-of-winter-in-the-Rockies melody.

Monday, December 19, 2011

I'm Dreaming of a Brown Christmas...

... and no, I don't work for UPS :-)

The latest advanced weather forecasts for Lafayette, Indiana indicate that we will be having a brown December 25th (read: no snow) this year.  Kind of a bummer for someone who loves the first snow of the season and snow for Christmas (you can have the rest of it after that time).

What is it about snow and Christmas and me and memories?  It just seems right, seems essential that we have snow for Christmas.  Driving in the snow to relatives' houses, playing in the snow with friends, neighbors, and then nephews, building snowmen and making snow angels, shoveling the wonderful :-) white stuff--it all plays into Christmas memories of my past.

Waking up on that most magical morning, a soft cover of sparkling white snow brings an ethereal appearance to the world.  It helps bring the Christmas story into focus, no room at the inn and a babe born in a manger.  I like to sit by the window early that morning and watch the tree lights come on in windows on my street, just imagining the ruckus going on inside each home as wrapping paper and bows start flying and dreams start coming true.

A lot of folks don't like snow at any time, but for me snow at the holidays brings a smile to my face.  I don't even mind shoveling snow at Christmastime, because of the memories that replay in my mind.  I enjoy the show, believe you me. 

Great Songs For Christmas: "Sleigh Ride", Exhibit C

As I said here last week, there are just too many great versions of the holiday song "Sleigh Ride" to limit to just one posting.  So here is Amy Grant's version, which is so modern yet has so many old-fashioned qualities to it.  Absolutely delightful, in my humble opinion.

Side note:  Amy, I want your hair and your outfit in the You Tube video I linked :-)

Side note #2:  I had read somewhere that Amy was ready to have one of her babies at any minute while posing for the photos for this album.  Good Lord, I'd bet every pregnant woman wished she looked THIS fantastic at that point!

Great Songs For Christmas: "That Spirit of Christmas"

The first time I ever heard this song was in the movie "National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation", and it easily and quickly became a Christmas favorite of mine.  Can't miss with the late, great Ray Charles on this tune.

Very soulful and very much what the holiday is all about, I could listen to this song over and over again.

PS--why was there never a soundtrack album to "National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation" released?  It would have been such a monster seller, IMO.  I was told once that a soundtrack was released and was on the market for a very short period of time due to copyright issues with all the various musicians.  Can you imagine what one of those albums would be worth today?

These Are A Few of My Favorite Things, Part V

  • Pumpkin bagels at Einstein Brothers Bagels
  • Watching my nephews grow into young men
  • Making baskets
  • Good friends
  • Trustworthiness
  • Eating at small, out-of-the-way places
  • Christmas gifts from my wonderful neighbors
  • Capitol One Bowl Week on ESPN (lol)
  • A really good belly laugh, especially shared with a friend
  • Jack Russell Terriers
  • Hot chocolate
  • Pinterest (my newest obsession!)
  • Giving of myself to help others in this journey called life
  • Winter break from school and days off during said break :-)
  • Having enough money to pay my bills and buy food
  • Peace and quiet, wherever and whenever I can find it

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Great Songs For Christmas: "Sleigh Ride", Exhibit B

I got to thinking about this last night; there are so many great covers of the Christmas classic "Sleigh Ride" that I just can't pick one to feature on my blog.  Therefore, it is my mission to find and post as many as I can over the next week in celebration of the holidays.

 The Ventures are a 50's-60's rock band best known for the songs "Wipe Out", "Walk Don't Run", and the very popular theme song to the original "Hawaii Five-0" television series.  Whomever decided to write and record this version of "Sleigh Ride" was a genius, IMHO.

Kind of has a beach party feel to it; enjoy it and dance along, why don't you!

Great Songs For Christmas: "I Need a Silent Night"

Some songs are obviously Christmas classics, having earned that status and regard by being treasured by so many throughout the years.  Plus they have remarkable staying power; so many of us can recall ALL of the words to these songs.

This song by Amy Grant should be considered a "new" classic, IMO.  It speaks to all of us with good intentions and very little time because of all the things we are forced to fit into our lives, whether it be work, family, social obligations, community responsiblities, and all those little chores and tasks that become big ones when we can't get to them right away.

The most precious part of this song is the reciting of part of the Christmas story from the Bible by her daughter (I think her name is Corrina).  Daddy is the wonderful Vince Gill, so Corrina has some very promising musical genes.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Finding a Christmas Treasure

As you all know, decorating for the holidays also means finding temporary hiding spaces for the everyday household things that you move to make room. 

I was doing just that last night, putting some candles and candle accessories in the top drawer of my coffee table in the living room.  While I was shifting some items to make room for others, a small little loop of red construction paper caught my eye.  Recognizing it, I smiled and picked it up to look at it more closely.

In June 2006, my position was eliminated at a West Lafayette, IN chemical company.  Not having found a job by September of that year, I knew I needed to do SOMETHING to bring in SOME money.  I spent the rest of the school year as a substitute teacher in grades K-5 in the Tippecanoe School Corporation.

One class I subbed in was making a red and green paper chain for a Christmas tree for a local social services organization.  I helped those little fingers form the circles out of construction paper and glue them together and showed them how a link works.  After school that day, before all my walkers and bus riders and car riders had departed for home, one of my little day-long troublemakers walked up to me and handed me a single red link.

She had decorated the link with little Santas, all drawn in pencil.  And she had inscribed the words "You Are The Very Best" on the outside of the link.  I smiled and gave her a hug, thanked her, and turned away so she couldn't see the tears in my eyes.  I had reprimanded this poor thing all day long and yet she gave me a gift from herself.  More than she will ever know. 

She has to be a middle schooler by now, and I hope she remembers the day she brought Christmas joy into Mrs. H's life.  I know I will always remember it.

Great Songs For Christmas: "Christmas Wrapping"

In 1981, this bouncy little Christmas rap tune came about.  I fell in love with it immediately at the time (freshman year in college) and still do count it among my favorite Christmas songs.  1981--REALLY?!?

I can't think of another song by The Waitresses, but this one is a keeper in my book.  And, although there are very few rap tunes I can stomach, this is one that sticks in your head.  Just way too cute and way too cool to leave off the holiday playlist.

The List Is Getting Longer...

Good grief, today is December 14.  Christmas Day is less than two weeks away!  Where in the heck does the time go?  It most certainly flies out the door when you are not looking, I think, as you become older.

And just to think that last Saturday, I was busy patting myself on the back because I had only one present left to buy.  I even have the stockings (nine of them!) done and everything wrapped.  Fast forward four days and I seem to have fallen off the organization wagon.

Wonderful neighbors have been dropping off plates of cookies with their Christmas wishes.  I love and appreciate all of them and need to add baking to the list for the next few days so I can return the good wishes.  Maple Street is a pretty wonderful street to live on!

My "victim" in the family Christmas present drawing is the one gift I have left to buy.  I need to hop on a few websites today and check some of my gift ideas.  Thank goodness I already have some things in mind.  Also need to check in with Mom on the price limit for gift buying so I don't go overboard like usual :-)

Christmas parties and social obligations are also starting to crowd my list.  I really did want to do a better job this year of working these things out in the most stressfree manner possible.  Oh, well, Christmas comes but once a year.  I hope my friends and family know how much I really do love and cherish them.

Lastly, I need some "me" time.  Time to do the things I want to do.  Time to reflect on the true meaning of the season.  Time to be with the people who make my life whole.  Time to remember Christmases past and the people who made them special.  Time to rekindle the fires within and get ready for another wonderful year of life.

The list is getting longer, but all of a sudden, I don't mind.

Great Songs For Christmas: "Sleigh Ride"

I think "Sleigh Ride" is one of my all-time favorite Christmas songs.  Many, MANY versions of this song have been recorded during the years and many, MANY versions of this song will blow your socks off.  Memorable covers include artists as varied as Arthur Fiedler and the Boston Pops, The Ventures (of "Hawaii Five-0" theme song fame) and Amy Grant.

But this version by Ella Fitzgerald, a gorgeous woman IMHO and one of the true giants of the jazz world, remains my favorite.  Her smooth voice and the be-boppin' orchestral accompaniment combine to make this a very catchy holiday tune.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The Day That Will Live In Infamy...

(To the Congress of the United States, December 8, 1941)

Yesterday, Dec. 7, 1941 - a date which will live in infamy - the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.

The United States was at peace with that nation and, at the solicitation of Japan, was still in conversation with the government and its emperor looking toward the maintenance of peace in the Pacific.

Indeed, one hour after Japanese air squadrons had commenced bombing in Oahu, the Japanese ambassador to the United States and his colleagues delivered to the Secretary of State a formal reply to a recent American message. While this reply stated that it seemed useless to continue the existing diplomatic negotiations, it contained no threat or hint of war or armed attack.

It will be recorded that the distance of Hawaii from Japan makes it obvious that the attack was deliberately planned many days or even weeks ago. During the intervening time, the Japanese government has deliberately sought to deceive the United States by false statements and expressions of hope for continued peace.

The attack yesterday on the Hawaiian islands has caused severe damage to American naval and military forces. Very many American lives have been lost. In addition, American ships have been reported torpedoed on the high seas between San Francisco and Honolulu.

Yesterday, the Japanese government also launched an attack against Malaya.

Last night, Japanese forces attacked Hong Kong.

Last night, Japanese forces attacked Guam.

Last night, Japanese forces attacked the Philippine Islands.

Last night, the Japanese attacked Wake Island.

This morning, the Japanese attacked Midway Island.

Japan has, therefore, undertaken a surprise offensive extending throughout the Pacific area. The facts of yesterday speak for themselves. The people of the United States have already formed their opinions and well understand the implications to the very life and safety of our nation.

As commander in chief of the Army and Navy, I have directed that all measures be taken for our defense.

Always will we remember the character of the onslaught against us.

No matter how long it may take us to overcome this premeditated invasion, the American people in their righteous might will win through to absolute victory.

I believe I interpret the will of the Congress and of the people when I assert that we will not only defend ourselves to the uttermost, but will make very certain that this form of treachery shall never endanger us again.

Hostilities exist. There is no blinking at the fact that our people, our territory and our interests are in grave danger.

With confidence in our armed forces - with the unbounding determination of our people - we will gain the inevitable triumph - so help us God.

I ask that the Congress declare that since the unprovoked and dastardly attack by Japan on Sunday, Dec. 7, a state of war has existed between the United States and the Japanese empire. 

--Franklin Roosevelt

Shameless Self-Promotion...My Mary Kay E-Party!

"Sable"--I've got it
and am trying it!
My E-Party Shopping Link

Time for a little shameless self-promotion; I am having a Mary Kay e-party!  I am not the party-giving type, so this might be a once in a lifetime opportunity :-)
Limited edition eye and cheek color;
 it might not be around but could be :-)

My friend and MK consultant Lavonna has convinced me that I need to do this, and I'm in love with some of the newer MK products, so this show is gonna go on.  The e-party format really clinched it for me; who has time for a party at someone's house these days, especially right after the holidays?  Besides, we all need a little pick-me-up in the dead of winter, and, if you're like me, it's great fun to play with makeup!

The "party" is going to be held from Thursday, January 5 to Thursday, January 19.  You may shop on Lavonna's Mary Kay website with a credit card, or you can shop, give me your order and payment in cash, check, or credit card and I will make sure Lavonna gets your order.

Let me know if you would like to participate! 

Monday, December 5, 2011

Great Songs For Christmas: "Tennessee Christmas"

Another lovely Christmas song that makes me wish I was in a log cabin in the woods in front of a roaring fire, snowed in for days (let me go to the grocery first) is "Tennessee Christmas".

Many artists have sung this song, among them Amy Grant and B.J. Thomas, but Steve Wariner's version is the one I love the most.  Besides, Steve is a homegrown Hoosier boy, having been born on Christmas Day in Noblesville, Indiana (according to  Go Steve!

I close my eyes when I listen to this song and I can hear love.  Call me sentimental, but that's what I hear.

12/3/11--Round Cherokee Pattern Basket

Here is my last basket of the Fall 2011 season of classes--a Round Cherokee Pattern Basket!  It is so lovely and the crosses "pop" in such a subtle manner.  Such a great addition to my holiday decor, too!

The other students in the class chose to make their baskets with the green reed and natural reed where I used the wine reed.  Those baskets were great and the crosses really "popped"; they were striking.  This was my first real color study, and I think it turned out really well.

This was also my first experience with wrapped handles.  Not hard at all to do, but making them stay in place while lashing the rim onto the basket was a different story entirely.  But I got everything to stay where it was supposed to stay and it looks great.

Sad that the fall schedule of basketmaking classes is over, but I am so looking forward to the spring schedule!  And, a new basketmaking shop has opened in West Lafayette, so I am also looking forward to exploring it and seeing what they offer in the way of classes.  It will be so nice to have supplies close by!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Great Songs For Christmas: "Milk and Cookies"

This is an absolutely charming Christmas song about the arrival of Santa Claus as seen through the eyes of a five-year old boy.  Clint Black's voice and the bright, bouncy music give this song the perfect sense of frenzy and orneriness and I can see a little guy vividly in my mind's eye, being ready to burst at the excitement of Santa's big visit.

On a side note, I just want to say right here and now that I think teachers at holiday time and at the time of the first snow have THE most difficult job in the entire world.  If all that excitement and enthusiasm could somehow be captured and corralled, they could power the world for years to come.

I hope that listening to this song recreates that childhood feeling of magic and excitement for you.