Tag Archives: gifts

Christmas presents for one of my favorite little families

Finally, I can blog about and reveal some of the things I’ve been working on.

I definitely overcommited myself on the handmade gift list this year. So, a lot of it got scrapped. I gave first priority to people that I knew would actually appreciate handmade gifts. The second priority is keeping it real and knowing what I’ll actually be able to finish in time.

Anyway, last night one of our favorite little families held a Christmas gathering for all our friends and I gave away their gifts. Yesterday kind of turned into the day from H-E-double hockey sticks though so I was completely lame and showed up with my gifts in a slightly tangled pile in my arms, not even wrapped. Life happens. And a lot of life happening has been happening around here lately. It’s just that way. I know Cara understands and that is why we can be friends.

Oh, and I forgot to take photos of these gifts. So, Cara had to do that for me too. Here goes…


Here is sweet William, the cutest Beatles fan ever and one of Bean’s best friends, sporting his new airplane shirt. It is just a simple thermal from Old Navy that I added the vinyl airplane and script to. Actually, Sprout has the same shirt, sans embroidery.


This scarf I made with fleece for Cara’s husband John. I got the basic idea for it from Scandinavian Needlecraft and had actually planned to go in a slightly different direction with it, but Stephen helped me out with a concept and I went with it instead. Oh and John, Stephen says if you do not want your scarf, he will gladly take it off your hands.


Then for Cara I made these embroidered dish towels. I bought the towels at Target and the embroidery templates are from Doodle Stitching: The Motif Collection. There are so many cute ideas in that book that are all so very Cara that it was hard to narrow down what I was going to do. I decided to make her some dish towels because she was very much in love with the woodland animals onesies that I made for a few friends. I told her that I would make some for her next babe, but that could be awhile. She needed some cuteness now.

Alright, hi-ho, hi-ho, back to Santa’s workshop I go…

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Daily, 11/10

The cutest little gnome girl you have ever seen. Just a glimpse at a top secret project I am working on right now.



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Daily, 11/5

Two done, two more to go. Hopefully I can get it all done tonight!



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Happy holidays means 4 Christmas celebrations, 2 birthday parties, 1 New Year’s Eve party and 1 baby shower

OK so all the festivities are pretty much finished now so I’ll just get this taken care of with one big post. I didn’t take quite as many pictures this year as I have in years past. I usually don’t take many pictures when we are with Stephen’s side of the family because there are just SO many photographers that I don’t want to add to the picture request list and the thousands of clicks/flashes/fake smiles/posing etc. So you’ll notice as the post goes on that pictures taper off.

Christmas Eve my family came over to celebrate and open presents. Paula didn’t come down, but Cherie and Andrea were there as well as my parents. I baked a ham with a yummy molasses and brandy based glaze and we also had mashed potatoes, wild rice stuffing, green beans with soy nuts and bacon bits, and glazed carrots. Then we opened presents and took some pictures.

Bean of course got the most presents because I’m the first one to have kids on my side.

That day was actually a pretty rough day for us. Bean was having a REALLY hard time with the teething and being around extra people. She had two huge meltdowns where I just couldn’t get her to stop crying. I tried everything. Finally, the second time around I had Stephen run to the store and get some Tylenol Infant Drops and we gave her some of those. She was so much happier after that. I’m not one to get into the habit of drugging up my baby, but her teeth were really causing her pain and the other remedies we tried just weren’t cutting it.

After things were wrapped up with my family Stephen and I packed up the car and headed to Ruth & Eric’s for more celebrating. Eric’s family always does this big Italian Feast of the Seven Fishes on Christmas Eve. We weren’t sure if they’d be finished by the time we got there. We got to their house and they still weren’t home. We’d been to Eric’s parents’ a few times before, but we usually followed another driver or rode with someone. So we went on a little adventure to try and find their house. We made a couple wrong turns, but eventually we found it. I was pretty apprehensive after the day we’d experienced bringing Bean into a house packed full of boistrous Italians, but she actually did really great. We didn’t have any melt downs at all. Things finished up there about an hour or so later and we headed back to Ruth & Eric’s house.

All of our girls went down for bed and then we stayed up for a little longer to chat, help Santa eat rum cake and make sure he left a note for the girls to read the next morning. The next morning it was time for presents. Stephen’s family does one-by-one present opening so we FINALLY finished that up around noon. Luckily Santa left us some sustanence in our stockings in the form of fruit roll ups, Odwalla bars, and Teddy Grahams because I think we would have been famished otherwise.


“Lizzie” helping to pass out presents.

Santa brought “Half-pint” her very own princess castle tent, which she very much enjoyed:

 

I think we all spent the whole day in our pajamas.

Some of Eric’s family came over and we had Christmas Dinner before Stephen’s parents headed back to Bakersfield.

The next day Ruth and I braved the post-Christmas crowds at their mall. I bought a couple cute shirts for Bean at Nordstrom, I found my bridesmaid dress for Paula’s wedding, and I got some cute jeans. We also had lunch at Tacone (I’m so sad ours closed!) where I enjoyed the United Steak of America sandwich (their Rosemary Chipotle mayo is the best) and some sweet potato fries. After the mall we headed over to Borders to spend some gift cards. We found some really great deals in the bargain bins to beef up our growing libraries. I seriously could have spent hours and thousands of dollars there, but I managed to walk away with $12 still on my card.

Saturday Ruth and I took Bean to check out a new yarn shop and a baby store in T.O. before heading to Target to pick out a present for Morgan’s baby shower. Stephen and I headed back to Bakersfield later that afternoon. When we got home we then hit up every Target in town to see if we could find a fake 7 1/2 ft Douglas Blue Fir because all the Christmas stuff was 50% off. We had no luck so we bought clothes and Disney movies instead.

This really doesn’t have anything to do with the holidays, but that Sunday we left Bean in the nursery for the first time ever and she did great. I didn’t get paged the whole time and she fell asleep right before we picked her up. She really is one of the best babies ever.

Monday and Tuesday were spent cleaning up the house and washing all the laundry from our trip. Tuesday night our friends Grant and Megan came over for dinner. I finally got to see her engagement ring and we all hung out for quite awhile. I made yummy split pea soup with some of the left over ham.

Wednesday Andrea came over for most of the day. I’m not sure if I’ve said it here yet, but I absolutely love that I get to see my sister once a week now. She is such a HUGE help with Bean on the days that she is here. It’s like the only time I get a break. Basically on the days she is here all I have to do is feed Bean. Andrea will hold her, calm her down if she’s a little fussy, change diapers, etc. So I took complete advantage of Andrea being here so I could do some errands with an extra set of hands to help. We went to Macy’s to take back something I got for Christmas which was quite bulky and I would have had a hard time getting it and Bean into the store. Then she hung out with Bean while I tried on some clothes and helped me find the perfect jeans in a “short” length. After that we went to Target to get some more wrapping supplies and then to Albertsons to get stuff to make my contribution to that night’s festivities. The line at Albertsons was ridiculous. We were standing there for 30-40 minutes.

I was texting Ruth throughout our day because they were stuck on I5 in traffic and fog. The original plan was for them to get to our house around 1pm, but between leaving late and all the traffic mess they didn’t get to Bakersfield until much later and wound up going straight to my in-law’s house instead. Stephen got home from work and we packed up all of Bean’s stuff, the spinach artichoke dip for the New Year’s Eve party, fed the dogs and then headed over.

My mother-in-law wanted to do a very small and exclusive family party for their dad’s birthday apart from the slight chaos of the extended family. So we had a very quiet 3rd Christmas and birthday with Ruth & Eric’s family, Jim, Della and Jim’s parents.


Bean got to meet her Great Grandma Cay for the first time.


Happy Birthday Jim!


Della accidentally bought those trick candles. “Lizzie” and “Half-pint” tried to help grandpa blow them out, but eventually some water was necessary.


Ruth is sporting a pair of the wristwarmers I made for Christmas presents. One of only three knitted gifts I actually managed to get done this year.

After the birthday festivities were finished, we went to Stephen’s Aunt Nancy’s house for some New Year’s Eve partying. My spinach artichoke dip was a big hit. So here’s the recipe for those of you that missed the conversation:

Spinach Artichoke Dip
Ingredients
-8oz container of sour cream
-16oz cream cheese, softened
-16oz shredded parmesan cheese
-1 small bag/box frozen chopped spinach, defrosted
-1 small bag/box frozen artichoke hearts, defrosted or 2 cans of artichoke hearts in water (not the marinated kind)

Directions
Preheat oven to 400. Dice artichoke hearts or place them in a food processor. Mix with remaining ingredients and then place in a baking dish. Cover and bake 25 minutes, removing cover for the last 5 minutes of baking. Serve with sliced baguettes, tortilla chips or veggies.

Sorry I don’t have a picture, but I’m sure you’ve all seen this dish enough at restaurants and such that it really isn’t necessary. I’ve tried a few other versions of this dip and then came up with this one which combines a couple of them without including mayonaise which tends to make it really oily.

Anyway, after we rang in the New Year we headed back to our house with Ruth & Eric’s family for the night. Thursday we went back over for chilli and college football.

Friday Ruth and I ran some errands together and then the boys went to the music store for a bit. Then we went back to Aunt Nancy’s for another round of Christmas and birthdays.

Saturday morning I made Stephen do chores with me which he wasn’t too excited about. Things brightened up though when “Lizzie” and “Half-pint” joined in on the laundry folding action. Every time we came across a pair of “undies” during the folding process “Lizzie” got quite the kick out of it. At one point when she dived into our laundry pile she found one of my nursing bras and swung it around her head rodeo style while giggling.

After that we had a shower for Morgan and the babe. I won baby present bingo which means I get Starbucks a couple times this week. Bean was such a good baby and had fun hanging out with all the ladies. We can’t wait till Morgan’s babe gets here. They are going to have so much fun at Mammoth together this year.

After the shower Ruth & I went to Barnes and Noble for more book shopping. I got a really nice version of a compilation of Jane Austen’s works. I pined over more books, but managed to resist most of the temptation.

Then we went home so they could pack up and head back home. Stephen and I hung out at home for a couple hours before one last visit to Aunt Nancy’s for a little more time with the family. Today we still haven’t gotten out of our jammies and I’m planning to keep it that way unless Megan calls to say that she won the dream wedding package at the Bridal Show in which case there will be much celebrating at Rosemary’s later.

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Bah Humbug!

OK, that’s not totally how I feel, but just a little.

It just seems like nothing Christmas related is going the way I planned at this point.

First is our Christmas lights. We tried to put them up last weekend and they wouldn’t turn on. We couldn’t figure it out. Stephen fiddled and fiddled. We replaced bulbs and tried and tried to get them to work. We spent the whole day on it. Well turns out we had too many strands on the same circuit (you’re only supposed to have 3 strung together, not 11 plus three tree things).

So our Christmas lights are still not coming on at this point. This weekend we’re going to take down a majority of what we put up and go with the simple line with three tree things that we had last year:

Speaking of trees, we’re not getting one this year. Growing up I always had real trees and we’ve had one every year we’ve been married. But we decided last year was the last time we’d have a real tree.

Why? It’s always a pain getting our tree because we have to borrow someone’s truck to go get it and then borrow someone’s truck to take it away. It gets needles everywhere. You have to water it every day. AND last year after we got our tree home we realized that it reeked of feline pee. Our house stunk for a whole week. I went through two cans of Febreeze air stuff trying to make the smell go away. Our theory is that some large cat species (Mountain Lion, Cougar, Bob Cat, etc.) got it. Also we decided that they are just too expensive to buy year after year.

The plan was to get a very nice fake tree this year, something that would be a good investment to use for many years to come. Well, I’m of the mindset that if I am going to have a fake tree it better be something I want to look at year after year. The trees that fulfill that for me are WAY too expensive. So we’re not getting a tree this year. We’ll put the presents by the fireplace that never gets used.

I can see my dad cringing as he reads this.

Another bah humbug thing? My Christmas knitting projects. I have been working on sweater #1 FOR.EV.ER. There is no way it is going to be done in time for Christmas, let alone the other two that I had planned on making.

I think I’m losing my knitting mojo, y’all. Seriously.

I was working 9-6pm last year at this time (during which I did no knitting) and I still managed to complete quite the long list of knitted items. I’m home all the time now. I knit when she’s nursing, sleeping, playing etc. I feel like I am knitting all.the.time. Yet progress remains slow.

Plus Sweater #1 is too big. It isn’t actually bigger than the size it is intended to be, I just know that the recipient of this sweater and the others like to wear tight clothing and this isn’t going to jive with that style. The sweaters will be lovely when they are done, just not something they would wear.

So I’m keeping them for myself and the $72 I spent on yarn for them will now come out of my clothing budget. Which is OK, but I actually wanted to spend my clothing budget on pants not tops. Oh well.

Anyway, I’m now left trying to come up with new present ideas for these peeps. I’ve got two of them figured out, I think. I hope. I’m finally allowed to go Christmas shopping next week (budgetary constraints prevented earlier shopping).

And yes, shopping this late is definitely something I am NOT looking forward to. At all. Not one bit. I hate crowds. I hate lines. And this year I have a baby to add into the mix of shopping craziness. I’m getting stressed out just thinking about it.

So anyway that pretty much sums up why I say bah humbug! Thanksgiving is just so much more fun and easier. Way less pressure. Just cooking, eating and hanging out with the fam. That is MY kind of holiday.

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What I’ve learned about love and romance

A good friend of mine that I have not seen in far too long is getting married in May and I’ve been invited to the bridal shower this Saturday. I received the invitation in the mail about a week ago and it is just as cute as can be. The theme of the shower is romance, I was given all the details about the bride’s sizes and favorite scents. I was also told where she is registered.

Yesterday as I went go buy a gift I was really perplexed about what I should do. The be-excited-for-your-friend-where-she-is-at-now side of me just wanted to get her some fun lingerie and maybe a candle or two. The almost-been-married-five-years side of me wanted to get something practical from the registry.

First of all I can hardly believe that I’ve been married almost 5 years. It really doesn’t seem like it to me. It has gone by so fast. I have learned a lot though and I usually find that learning a lot takes time. Lots of time. So I suppose I really have been married 5 years.

The whole thing sparked up a thought process in me that I have not been able to shake.

Over the years, especially when I was newly married, I would find myself holding Stephen to these unspoken expectations of what was romantic. I would get upset because he didn’t leave love notes for me or spontaneously bring home flowers “just because.” I never communicated that these were my expectations. I would just get mad and stew over it.

I think this year was finally the year that broke that for me. I remember it distinctly because I was watching The Today Show the day before Valentine’s Day. The anchors and their guests were discussing the various things that people should be doing for their loved ones — what kind of flowers were in and what was meant by them, what lingerie, the perfect chocolates, how to create the perfect romantic evening. It occured to me that morning that the vast majority of The Today Show audience is women. So what they were essentially doing is creating an expectation in their viewers that unles your husband/partner/fiance/boyfriend/etc. does X, Y, and Z he does not really love you or care about these romantic things which are important to you. All the while these partners are not watching the show and don’t know that they are being held to this expectation of what they should be doing to prove their love.

The notion didn’t necessarily break for me because I saw the logic there, it broke because I had started to realize that what they were marketing to the viewers was not love or romance.

Flowers wilt and die pretty quickly, candles get burned up, you find out that romantic dinners aren’t so romantic when everyone in Bakersfield is at the same place you chose causing a 1-2 hour wait, and after a couple wearings lingerie gets shoved into the back of a drawer. And for that matter, it has been my experience that the lingerie is more about us girls than the guys. Take it from me, at 4.5 months pregnant I’m starting to feel huge already and on days when I don’t feel that great I stay in my PJs all day. Yet somehow when I feel at my ugliest, my husband still manages to find me physically attractive. I don’t need lace and silk and feathers — which just make me feel ridiculous anyway — I just need to be me and that is enough for him.

So then what is love and romance? It’s having someone to hold your hair out of your face and rub your back when you can’t stop puking. It’s staying up all night in the ER with you even though work starts the next morning at 8 am. It’s having an advocate who stands up for you when you can’t stand up for yourself. It’s someone who doesn’t hold it against you that you didn’t manage to make dinner that day even though there was no real reason you couldn’t. It’s someone who holds you together when you think you are at your breaking point. It’s someone who encourages you to keep trying when you don’t think you can anymore. It’s someone who sticks by your side when the world seems to be falling apart. It’s a quiet Valentine’s evening at home eating Taco Bell for dinner in front of the TV and celebrating the fact that you didn’t throw up that day.

I could probably go on, but I think you get the idea.

It has also been my experience that 5 years in you wish that your girlfriends hadn’t spent hundreds of dollars on lingerie and would have instead pitched in together to get you the KitchenAid stand mixer so you can make yourself some Ghiradelli brownies without straining your arm when you’re having a bad day.
So after all this turmoil within me I think I came to a good compromise for my two sides: some kitchen tools from her registry and a copy of Healthy Cooking for Two (or Just You) (I tried to find a cookbook title with more romance in it, but Border’s cookbook selection wasn’t that great in this department) in a nice basket with red rose petals and some candles. Everything she needs to cook up a romantic dinner for two.

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