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Saturday, December 28, 2013

Merry Week of Christmas!



Our week in Portland is swiftly coming to a close. Where did the time go?

We left Spokane right on the end of a snowstorm that made the first 100 miles or so of the drive very treacherous. By the time we stopped for lunch in Hood River, Oregon we were treated to this beautiful rainbow.  What a blessing on our journey.

Most of my pictures are on my real camera and I have no way to post with them without my home computer. These were taken with my iphone and althoughsome are blurry, I hope the joy in each moment shows.

Precious Piper was the highlight of Grandpa's and my week of course. It's the longest stretch of time Grandpa has been able to be with her and oh my goodness! She adores her Grandpa. It's going to be very difficult to leave her behind when we go home . She definitely has her very own personality.  

Another BIG highlight was our bloggers lunch with Gracie, Taci and Teresa on Monday.  We exchanged gifts with each other and these ladies have so much creativity. Lovely Meredith from Florida sent us each an ornament with yarn and tiny knitting needles she made.  Gracie made us another little ball of yarnand needles  ornament and a crocheted wreath.  Taci made a pincushion kit in a glass jar complete with heart ended pins.  Teresa made us beautiful snow globe nativities.  All of these lovely ladies have blogs on my sidebar and have much better pictures than I do.

Teresa and Dayle made salmon for us.  Taci brought yummy breads from a French bakery, I brought broccoli salad and Gracie brought chocolate cheesecake for dessert.  A veritable feast.  Teresa also provided Christmas crackers and after we pulled them we wore the crowns that were inside for the afternoon. The table was set and decorated beautifully for us too!  Dayle & Teresa are great hosts!!!

On Friday we all met again at Gracies for a time of knitting together. We also got to hold her precious Grandbaby Rose.  There is nothing  like cuddling with a precious baby is there?

I am so thankful for these lovely ladies who have entered my life through this world of blogging and now are "real life" friends.

We had a wonderful Christmas here at Mandy and Brad's too.  It was very quiet and we had a great time playing with Piper and her new toys.  

Tomorrow we'll make the trip home and it will seem very quiet when we get there.  I don't even want to think of leaving. We've offered to take Piper home with us, but Daddy & Mommy aren't very receptive to that idea. :-)

My prayer us that you had a wonderful holiday week whetever you may be.  I am so thankful for the best gift I've ever been given.  My Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.

I'll see you all again soon.
Blessings,
Betsy

Friday, December 20, 2013

Snow! Again!

It's snowing here. Just in time for me to NOT go to my knitting group this afternoon. We meet at the top of what we call the "South Hill" here in Spokane. To give you an idea of what that hill is like, most streets are closed up and down the hill anytime it snows more than an inch or two. And you have to understand that we all know how to drive in snow, are very used to it and it still has to be closed. Very treacherous. Well, I guess I should say, MOST of us know how to drive in snow. There are always a few who think they can out perform simple gravity and laws of motion! :-) They always learn that they can't, to their own peril.

I've got most of the car packed and so I'll use this unexpected free time to finish up the laundry and knit! It's always fun to find unexpected time for knitting isn't it? That was the first bag that I packed, yarn for mittens since I can get a lot of knitting done while Hubby is driving to and from Portland. Not sure how much will get done while there, since Miss Piper will occupy most of my time. Gracie, however, has invited me to come and knit with her at her home while I'm on the west side and I'm going to try my best to visit her. She has such a cozy home, full of love and peace. If you haven't, you should visit her at One Saylor's Log. Her blog appears on my sidebar along with Teresa and Taci's, two other wonderful bloggy friends who live in the Portland area. We're all meeting for lunch next Monday at Teresa's farm just outside of Portland. Yippee! And speaking of Teresa. She and her husband Dayle sent a generous check to help with the mittens. See the goodies I was able to purchase at Michaels this week!
I've already started turning the yarn into mittens as you can see by the next photo. I've finished these since my last post.
Thank you Teresa and Dayle from my heart. I know the children will thank you too when they have warm hands.

I have a warm fire going this morning and I think it will be much appreciated with the snow falling outside.
It's nice and warm in here and it even looks a bit like Christmas, even with no tree this year.
I adore snowmen! They are my main Christmas decoration after the nativity and angels. This table sits at the end of our hallway, by the bedroom and guest bath doors. Hubby made me this table for our first Christmas together out of scraps of wood. We had NO money. It has kept a place of honor in all of our homes. It held the family candle at our 25th vow renewal ceremony and I love it.

The little ceramic snow "couple" in the second picture have been with us for 34 years! The candy cane was broken off one year when Mr. Snowman came out of storage. It was easily repaired though and he still looks happy!

The bottom shelf holds a Mr./Mrs. salt & pepper set, a snow globe and nutcracker snowman. All gifts from lovely friends over the years.

Another simple nativity in our bedroom. I like the reminders everywhere in our home of why we are truly celebrating this happy season. God's son came to earth for us as a tiny baby. It's a true miracle. I NEVER want to forget it in the busyness of Christmas.

And now my friends, I'm off to knit some more mittens and maybe sip some tea by the fire. It sounds heavenly doesn't it?

Blessings,

Betsy

"Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you. He is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger. Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth, peace to men on whom His favor rests." Luke 2: 11-14

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Quietness

Happy Tuesday to you all. One week and one day to go before the day we celebrate the Lord's birth here on earth. I think I have all my preparations made and now we're just counting the days until we go and see Piper again. Oh yes, her parents will also be there. :-) Many of you have seen pictures of the rainbow blankets I make for any and every baby that I know. That blanket just happens to be Miss Piper's favorite blanket and she sleeps with it every night. It covers her in her car seat, etc. Well, last month when we visited Japan, Uncle Alex sent home the cutest little stuffed bunny for Piper. It's pink and about 9-10 inches tall. She adores that little bunny. It goes everywhere with her. Mandy says she wraps it up in one of her kitchen tea towels and carrys it around. Yesterday we were face-timing and sure enough, she had that little bunny wrapped up, over her shoulder and patting it on the back! It was the cutest thing. Well, this Grandma decided little bunny needed a blanket of it's own and last night I whipped up a matching blanket for the bunny. It should fit it just right and I think Miss Piper will be happy. What do you think?
I made it lots smaller than the normal ones and added a little border instead of the granny squares in the corners because of time constraints, but I think it will make her happy.

I also managed to finish nine more pairs of mittens since my last post.
I know the colors are a bit boring here, but I was using up the ends of lots of partial skeins. My good friend and fellow blogger Teresa and her husband Dayle, sent a generous check which arrived yesterday to help buy more yarn. I think that's where I'll be going this afternoon, to buy more yarn. I'm getting down to the odds and ends. I have about 20 more pair to make and I should be done! Teresa, your gift to help the kids is so generous and I thank you and Dayle from the bottom of my heart.

I decided that my snowflake garland needed a little bright color since we have no tree this year. Yesterday I just added a few glass balls and I like how it looks. The snowflakes stay up well after the new year so this is a great Christmasy touch.

The elf cups on the island are a family tradition. As you can see the individual cups spell NOEL. All the time our kids were growing up, I would wake in the morning and they were switched to say "LEON". Over time I discovered that it was Jamie, our middle son who was the culprit. I loved it. Now that the cups stay the same all the time, it saddens me. I almost didn't put them out this year because it can be a bit depressing, but every time I look at them I smile with memories. Oh how I miss my little ones running around the house.

It's been a fun week for me since my last post. On Saturday, Neal and Jenny and Hubby and I went to Camping World and looked at campers just for the fun of it. Yes, we were the ONLY people there. We had a grand time. Then we proceeded on to Cabela's. That place was packed with shoppers but the four of us had one goal in mind. The Philly Cheesesteak Sandwich. Oh my goodness they are delicious. We did do a bit of shopping but that wasn't our reason in going. Then it was home to an evening in front of the fire watching Hallmark Christmas movies. That, my friends, is a good day for me! I know. I'm a strange cookie.

Yesterday I went to the Post Office to mail a package. I dreaded it because you know how it gets there the week before Christmas. It was wonderful. Christmas music playing. A guy dressed like Santa going down the line filling out a form for you so all you had to do was weigh your package and pay at the counter. There were about 20 people ahead of me in line and I was only there about 5 minutes! Now that was a Christmas miracle wouldn't you say?

Last but not least, here is a picture of Hubby and I at his company Christmas party. He looks happy. I look like I sucked on a lime. What on earth is wrong with me? Oh well. A lesser woman wouldn't post it, but oh well. It's me and I can't change it, but next year, I must remember to smile!


Next Monday is our bloggers Christmas luncheon in Portland with Teresa, Taci and Gracie at Teresa's farm. I'm so excited to finally go to Teresa's place. I've been to Gracie's and Taci's, (well I guess Taci's old place since they sold it and are building a new home). Now I get to see Teresa's nest. And the girls. Oh my goodness. We don't stop talking when we're all together. It will be such fun and I wish each of you could be there with us.

I'll see you again soon.

Blessings,

Betsy

Christmas-A star to light the way. Bright hosts to light the night, A Holy Child to light our hearts with Heavenly delight. "I have come as Light into the world." John 12:46

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

The Countdown is On!

Goodness! Only three weeks until Christmas! I hear that lament everywhere I turn. People counting down the days and the fear that they won't get everything done is prominent in the panic they're expressing. How sad. The only thing that is REALLY important about this day of days, is the reason we celebrate. And that is simply-Jesus was born. Now I know it wasn't on this exact date, no one knows that day, but this is the day that was chosen in history to celebrate it. Once I got that through my little pea brained noggin years ago, Christmas became much easier for me. I choose to not bake cookies except for special events-like this Sunday evening's variety night at church. I pick up gifts throughout the year when I see something that I think will be liked by the recipient. This helps tremendously with the budget. :-) When Thanksgiving came around this year, all I had left to do was Christmas cards.

All of you with little ones out there, speaking as one who has full grown kids, I'll let you in on a little secret. They hardly ever remember one specific gift they received. What they remember was who was there, and the fun that was had. In our case, playing board games with family and friends who drop in on Christmas night. This isn't meant to be a lecture my friends, I just really hate to see everyone running hither and yon, not enjoying the season of love and hope that it truly is. And then...when it's all over, depression and the feeling of uh-oh, I spent way too much money. Christmas isn't about money and things. It's about the people in your life and the love you show them, which represents the love God showed us by sending us his Son. No matter how simple your Christmas might be, it will be filled with love when you're with family and friends.

And now another tah-dah of mittens. Six more pair completed since my last post. Mr. Reindeer has been watching me knit frantically with much interest! :-)

My lovely blog friend Shaz who lives in Australia sent me these beautiful cards that she makes by hand. Aren't they absolutely gorgeous?

They are stunning AND in my most favorite colors. She even chose the Bible verse that always speaks to my heart. All of my kids know that I claim this verse as mine. One year when they were fairly young, they put all of their money together to buy me a new Bible for Christmas as mine was completely falling apart. On the inside of the cover they wrote "my" verse.

"But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles. They shall run and not be weary; and they shall walk and not be faint." Isaiah 40:31

Shaz, they are stunning. I don't think I can actually use them as note cards. I see framing in their future. Thank you, thank you!

Monday evening my bestest friend in the entire world, Jenny, came over to make laundry soap. I know, I know. How exciting can you get? I started making my own soap a little over 2 years ago and love it. It's so cheap and works great. I make it for Mandy and her family and I've shared the "recipe" with several other people. I've only heard of one person, who after trying it, preferred the fragrance of the store detergent over this. I had a blender that I never used and was going to give to charity when I came upon the idea of using it to "blend" the ingredients together, thereby breaking down the bar soap even more. Now, instead of little flakes of soap, it's all a fine powder-exactly like store bought, for a fraction of the price. I've let all my friends know that instead of going out to buy a dedicated blender to make soap, just use mine. I don't think I would use it for food after using it to make soap!

My life has been very quiet and slow the past few days. I'm still recuperating from the shingles vaccine I got a week and a half ago. I'm much better though, just a bit of tenderness at the injection site now. I guess it's very rare to have the severe reaction from the vaccine that I did. Go figure! I've been very happy to stay home though. It's been so bitterly cold, just like everywhere else in the country it seems. I have a fire lit in the fireplace and I've been knitting away on the mittens. I wish they went faster, but my fingers only move so quickly. I had wanted to have them done by the end of Christmas break, but I don't think that's going to happen. I have 11 pair done and about 40 more to go.

Tomorrow I have an appointment/interview with the CASA coordinator at the juvenile detention facility. Sounds scary doesn't it? It's a chance for them to meet me and ask questions to see if they even want me as a volunteer and I guess it's the same for me. I'm a bit nervous as I have never liked interviews for jobs, etc. I never know what to say or not say. With me sometimes it's open mouth-insert foot! :-) Prayers would be appreciated.

I'm going to leave you with a few pictures of the table by the front door. Since we have no tree this year, I have very few decorations to show you!
The little girls in the red dresses were painted 35 years ago, at the same time as the nativity set I shared in my last post. I found the "believe" plaque at Hobby Lobby a few months ago. The statue of the Holy Family was bought at the Tillamook Cheese Factory a few years ago when we spent Christmas at the Oregon coast in a hotel room. Mandy, who is a nurse, only had Christmas day off that year. We took Christmas to her that year and since she had a little apartment, we got a room at the coast. The hotel had a little kitchenette and I made Christmas dinner in the hotel room, complete with a turkey breast and stuffing! Those are the memories I was talking about. We all stayed in one room and had a blast together. No fancy tree, no decorations and we had a wonderful time anyway. I particularly love this stature, not only for the reminder of a happy family time, but the reminder of why we are celebrating.

And now, I'm off to knit awhile. Have a lovely day my friends and I'll be back again soon!

Blessings,
Betsy

Friday, December 6, 2013

It's beginning to feel a lot like Christmas!

Brrrr. I know that we in the Inland Northwest aren't the only ones in this deep freeze, but good golly it's COLD!!! We're supposed to be below zero tonight and tomorrow night. It's a balmy 4F outside right now. I just got back from a run to the post office to send off a couple of packages to Japan and I made it there just before the big rush. There was only one person before in line but when I left there were about 30 people in line! My goodness! I wasn't the hold-up either. I had all of my documents filled out and ready to go. As the saying goes, "this isn't my first rodeo!"

Since I've been busy trying to finish the last minute gifts, I haven't done too many mittens but I have managed to finish four more pair. I guess that's better than none, right?

I ran outside last night and froze my fingers to get a couple of pictures for you. These are the brightest houses on the block. We don't have lights out this year. Our house is so high and I hate ladders. Consequently I don't like Hubby on them any more than he has to be either. So since the boys moved out we have given up the outside lights.
My favorite by far is the one with all of the blue lights. We took Piper down the street to see them Saturday night and Mandy says it looks like a Christmas movie "threw up" on the second one's lawn. (Must be the nurse in her!) *smile* The third is so simple that I like it too. Sorry that picture is a bit blurry. My hands were completely frozen by then!

I think I told you that I was making some socks for some children that live in Northern Idaho. I met their mom on her blog. Her husband is a pastor at a small town church and they live in the mountains in a log home. They have children who love wool socks since they heat their home with a wood stove and the floors can be cold. She doesn't knit and when I read this, well, you know what happened. I offered to knit some socks for the kids. Yesterday her husband had a meeting here in Spokane so Julianne and I met at Perkins for tea and ended up talking for over two hours. She is an absolutely lovely lady and we had a wonderful time. At least I did and I hope she did too! :-) They make their own tea mixture and she gave me a jar of it. I had a cup before bed last night and it is wonderful. It's so nice to meet new people through this blog and others too. I wish every one of us could get together and share like Gracie, Teresa, Taci and I do. It's one of the things I look forward to every trip I take to Portland. After hugging and kissing on Piper of course! We're having lunch at Teresa's home in about two weeks and I'm so looking forward to it. Fun and fellowship and talking about crocheting and knitting and Christmas and, and, and, whatever else comes up. We just truly enjoy each other's company. I am very jealous that Gracie and Teresa get to go swimming together several times a week. Well, maybe someday I'll live close by and can join them.

We're not putting a tree up this year since it's just Hubby and I and we'll be at Mandy's for Christmas itself. I did put a few of my favorite decorations out though. This is our nativity set. It's the star of the show every year, because without Jesus' birth, why would we even be celebrating? After all, that is truly the reason for this season we celebrate.

I made this set the first Christmas we were married in 1978 so it's been on prominent display for 35 years now. Through all of these years not one of the pieces were broken. I even painted on the faces of all the people and the animals. This definitely has a favored spot in my heart for the holidays.

Tomorrow is Hubby's company Christmas party. He will be honored as being an employee for 20 years. So that means we've been in Spokane for 20 years. That time has sure gone fast. It seems just a few short years ago that we moved cross country to a city that I'd never even heard of before. We do love it here EXCEPT for the brutal winters. Retirement closer to the coast is sounding better all the time. I just wish we could afford to retire to Hawaii! :-)

And now I need to gather my mitten materials and head out the door to my Friday afternoon knitting group. Another group of lovely ladies to play with! Oh I do have a wonderful life.

Have a safe, warm and dry weekend my friends and I'll be back soon.

Blessings,

Betsy

An angel of the Lord appeared to the shepherds and they were terrified but the angel said, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David, a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord." Luke 2:11

Monday, December 2, 2013

It's December?

Happy Monday morning to you all. We had a busy, busy weekend here. And I'm having a hard time believing that it's December already. My goodness. There isn't even 4 weeks between Thanksgiving day and Christmas this year. I'm glad I'm all prepared and ready for the holiday. I've spent the morning cleaning the entire house and putting up a few decorations. Emphasis on a few decorations. Since we're not home for Christmas this year, I'm forgoing a tree and have just put out some knick-knacks.

Jamie, Kyleigh and Caleb arrived in the early afternoon on Wednesday. We had a great time with Grandma baking and preparing the turkey for roasting. Our kitchen is part of one big room, (dining, living and kitchen) and I love being part of everything even when I'm cooking. Kyleigh and Caleb had fun with a dualing game of Angry Birds on my Ipad and Jamie's notebook. Hubby and Jamie looked over a new purchase Hubby has made while Chloe looks on. (This second photo is in our bedroom, we have a sitting room attached.)

Mandy, Brad and Piper arrived early in the afternoon on Thursday. They both had to work on Wednesday and it would have been very late had they come after work. This worked out much better. The grandkids had a wonderful time playing together and Piper loved having Kyleigh read to her. Caleb is in first grade and is reading chapter books to Grandpa. I'm amazed at how well both of them read, but then, all of our kids are avid readers and so are Hubby and I. It must be hereditary!
Giving Piper rides in the Tonka dump truck turned into the biggest fun thing to do all weekend! They all loved it and the big kids were very careful not to go too fast or run into walls! :-)

We woke up to thick frost over everything on Friday and then, later in the day, Piper experienced her very first snowfall. She loved it!

Aren't they a cute family? I just love them so much! We get to be at their house for 9 days at Christmas and the amazing thing is, they seem to like being with us! Even our son-in-love, Brad, enjoys having Hubby around. They like to work on projects together.

Here are Kyleigh and Caleb teaching Piper all about Angry Birds! She just wanted to see Elmo. :-)

Even a little crafting got done last week. I finished two scarves. One for Alex's girlfriend, Fifi, who loves the color pink. She's graduating next spring from a school in Tokyo with a fashion degree, but still like the things I make. Alex's is the same color as Harumi's that I made last week.
I also made a crocheted tie for Alex. He and Fifi each bought me a crochet pattern book when we were in Tokyo. However, I'm completely guessing at the directions since it's all in Japanese. I think I need to go a hook smaller because the tie is much wider than I think it should be. Oh well, I'll send him this one and then make him another later.

And last, but certainly not least, I started more mittens this weekend. I'm hoping to make great progress on them over the next couple of weeks so I can take 50 pairs in to the school after Christmas break.
Three pairs done already! Yippee! I had enough yarn left from the others to make several pair so I'm on my way to the new goal.

Speaking of mittens, I better get moving and get those needles working. Have a lovely Monday my friends and remember to smile at everyone. This can be a stressful season and a smile goes a long, long way to improving someone's day.

Blessings,
Betsy