Saturday, December 20, 2014

First Week of Vegetating


Hi all -- What've we been up to? The girls have spent a lot of time staring at screens, recovering from many months of "screen-deprivation," a.k.a. "school." Hmm. Adam threatened to turn off their internet, or change the Netflix password, whichever worked better. They went from watching on separate screens to watching together, sharing a pair of headphones. Thus they claimed to be engaging in a family bonding activity.


Together we've watched While You Were Sleeping, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, A Christmas Story.
Beau likes the couch too :)
 I snipped out a few oblong snowflakes for the front window. It felt festive. The pretty tree is a paper cut-out I did years ago at a ladies' gathering, with quite a bit of help. It's lovely.

 I finally bit the bullet and made some home-made deodorant. Did you know that almost all store brand deodorants and antiperspirants contain aluminum? Many people think that is cancer-causing, and it can't be good to slather a lot of it right near your lymph nodes each day. I used some aluminum-free deodorant for a couple of years -- Arm and Hammer, I think. Then I tried Tom's deodorant, but I was allergic to it. In frustration I switched back to trusty old Suave, but I really wanted to use something natural. Finally I made my own:
 I made 3 bars, 4 oz. each. I've been using this deodorant (I don't need antiperspirant) for several days, and I love it. It works very well, smells nice, applies easily. It's perfect. I keep it in a little ramekin on my dresser, with a bit of plastic wrapper around one edge so I can hold it. And it costs a fraction of what those pricey natural deodorants cost.
We've had a banner year of pecans, as I've said before. Adam has been cracking and picking.
 Tonight I made these for our Christmas church service/reception tomorrow night.
pretzels, Rolos, pecans, powdered sugar
 And on Monday, Peter comes home!!!!! Squeeeee! We bought two boxes of his favorite cereal. That should last him a couple of days. Now ... to empty the milk aisle.
 And for you ladies wondering (Rebecca, Sarah, Mags) -- here's a photo of my nails, mere moments ago. I've done a lot of typing, piano playing, tons of knitting/crocheting, dish washing, 3 soaks in the bathtub, and regular living, and they still look great. But it's only 3 days so far.

Friday, December 19, 2014

The Inexplicable Love of Fingernails

My college girl Anna has brought these things into our home.
They're the 21st Century's answer to Lee Press-On Nails. She let Julia pick out a pattern, and Anna did her nails.
She fits and cuts the nail paper (or whatever you call it) first.
Then, because we do not have a blow dryer in the house, she had to hold the jamberry in a pair of tweezers, close to a warm iron, so it would curl.
Then she applied it to Julia's nail, pressed it down, and below she is trimming them.
Here's the pattern Julia picked:
The really freaky thing is this: the Jamberry Party that Anna attended was held on Facebook -- yes, true! On Facebook! Virtual parties in which people play games, win prizes, and buy product. Then the nail patterns were delivered to our door.
Here's what I picked:
Yeah. I know. I'm 51 years old and I have fingernails that look like I'm in middle school. Sigh. But it was so much fun, and they really are kind of pretty. Plus -- they last for four weeks, supposedly. I'll keep you posted on that one.
I'm a Very Plain Fingernails kinda gal, so this is rather different for me. But the girlies loved doing it. Now if I could just get the paper edges to stop catching on my yarn while I knit!
Update: 48 hours later, and the Jamberries look just as good as when we put them on!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Origami Lights

My girlies are so creative -- Proud Mama here!
Julia bought a package of scrapbook paper at Michael's, and she's been making little folded boxes. I don't know if they qualify as origami, but they're pretty!
She strung twinkle lights around the windows in her bedroom, and then she mounted a little paper box on each light ... like this:
I like this red floral one.
Sometimes there's a jumble of lights.
And Julia likes this one best, with the script on it.
She's now put a paper box on each light, so her room is very festive. Isn't this a cool idea?
Update: Here are a few more pics, after Julia finished the light strings.





Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Three Girls in the House

Well, Anna's home! She's done with her scholastic labors for a few weeks, and she can turn into a vegetable :)
We picked her up at the Rocky Mount train station, a very cool building.
I've shared some photos before, but here's the extremely large waiting area.
And the impressive glass ceiling overhead. Love those light fixtures.
The oddest thing at this train station -- outside on the boarding area, a long paved area next to the tracks, the people waiting to board the next train divided themselves almost exclusively by race: black passengers on the right, white passengers on the left, and with a very long stretch of concrete between the two groups. I found it so odd. It's almost like everybody would have to know ahead of time, which side to go to, you know? How does that work? It seemed bizarre to me. I did find these fun Santas outside the station cafe to be pretty cool too!
On to Anna! She's been doing more hand-stitching, and has some pairs of pillowcases for sale this season. These first two sets are done on pure white cases (NOT cream-colored), but my lighting was not great for the photos. But you can see the lovely work she does.

This is my favorite set:


The set below is on cream-colored cases.


She's starting a new pair with cute hummingbirds on them. Not done yet.
Anyway, if anybody out there would like a pretty pair of hand-stitched pillowcases for a Christmas gift, she is charging $50/pair. Leave a comment or otherwise contact me and let me know.
We girlies went to New Bern yesterday and spent the day shopping away -- consignment stores, Michael's, Bath and Body Works, shoe stores, TJ Maxx. We had loads of fun :)
I love having both my ladies at home! The Merry Christmas has begun!

Monday, December 15, 2014

Potatoes

This is an utterly random and non-Christmasy post. Sorry. But sometimes you're walking in WalMart and something bizarre catches your eye. And you whip out your camera and take a picture. Like this:
Potatoes! Yummy mashed potatoes in a plastic package. They're "America's Favorite"!
Don't you wonder what's in there? Well, now, let's flip that package over and take a peek ....
Get a load of that ingredient list! After "non-fat dry milk," it launches into a foreign tongue that my insides do not speak. At least potatoes are the first ingredient. Hmm.
They have quite a few flavors ... err ... chemical combinations to please you. These were displayed right by the register for easy purchase of a packet or four.
Something tells me that Mom's Thanksgiving or Christmas mashed potatoes just were not meant to be made this way. Ewww. Yeah, we all ate some Hungry Jack mashed potatoes from a box, way back when. But I'm betting the ingredient list on that box didn't hold a candle to the alphabet soup on these packages. No thanks!
Update: I checked online for Hungry Jack mashed potatoes (the flakes in the box), to discover its ingredient list. Here it is: Potato flakes, sodium bisulfite, citric acid, BHA, Monoglyceride, cottonseed oil partially hydrogenated, sodium acid phosphate, butter oil. Not great, but a lot better than the 11-line paragraph on the plastic packet.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Seeing Through

At Christmas, we pull out things we don't see the rest of the year, little gifts from old friends, ornaments made by children, Christmas houses or wreaths or candles or stockings that mean nothing to another family. But to our family? They are priceless. They're part of a personal family story that only we know. Bought when we were poorer, and worn from years of use and many children, they look tattered and loved. I cradle each one before placing it in its spot.
Because I taught school and piano lessons, I received many little Christmas gifts. Somebody gave me this heavy glass ornament. I always hang it in a window. It's not really my style, but I've grown to like it. I've had it about 20 years. It's hung in windows in Iowa, Alabama, Massachusetts, and North Carolina. Why do we lug these things around with us, from house to house?
These silly little treasures oddly become the permanent things in our lives, a strange continuity. Homes, friends, jobs, churches may change and be lost, but at Christmas we pull out the same familiar decorations.
And through that window you see out, into the world, but you also see back, into the reflection, into the past, and the flickering flames of our advent candles. Only two were lit, but the glass doubled the image. Doesn't the past do the same? Over the years, small events are kept and rehearsed, brought out like faded ornaments. Gradually they are made so heavy, so weighty with significance -- more so than we realized at the time. Which friend will keep in touch? Which small event will your remember as the defining moment of an entire year?

Life consists of layers upon layers. Eventually they blend into a whole, but during the harried years, the busy years, we can't see the bigger picture. What do you see below?
Water. Leaves. An algae-covered rope. The dock. Clouds. Ripples. What is reflection? What is submerged?
And there, in the middle of it all, is me, peering at myself and everything else, trying to make sense of it.
It's the third Sunday of Advent. Anna is home from college now snuggled under comfy blankets on the couch, drinking tea, watching fun shows, sleeping twelve hours at night. Resting from her labors. Peter will be home soon. I'm happy to have these years -- these very years. I know they won't last much longer. May God give us all perspicuity as we need to puzzle out our lives and find His beauty there.