Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Be Resolute!

Have you made your resolutions yet? Plan well - 2010 is almost here!

This year, I resolve to be resolute!
[Resolute = marked by firm determination]

It appears that many of us make resolutions and then let them fall by the wayside by about April or May. I am guilty of dropping the proverbial ball on my resolutions almost every year. Oh, I start out with good intentions, but the determination seems to wane almost as rapidly as the list is put in the drawer.

We make resolutions in an effort to make the coming year a better one than the last. A resolution is typically defined as a promise or commitment people make to themselves to complete a project or alter a habit. Why make a promise to yourself and not keep it? (There are enough other people that disappoint us, we don't have to do it to ourselves!) I have succeeded at accomplishing and maintaining only ONE huge resolution in my whole life that I remember - quitting smoking. It's been 11 years since I made that commitment to myself. Talk about firm determination. (I know it's in there!)

As I ponder my resolutions for the coming year, I am focusing on these tips to help myself stay resolute:

1) Make an attainable resolution. If it's unrealistic, it's likely you will fail.

2) Focus on just one or two major resolutions. We try to do too much in too short a time.

3) Have a plan to achieve the goal in small steps. Set smaller goals on the path to achieving the main goal, and reward yourself for steps accomplished.

4) Don't fuss over failures - discover what caused the diversion and regroup.

5) Remind yourself of your resolution commitment - keep it out in the open on the fridge, the mirror, on top of your crafting supplies . . .

6) Remind yourself the benefits of succeeding.

7) Remember that it takes TIME to make changes to old habits. Resolutions take work and are not magically an overnight success!

I'm off to pare down my list of resolutions. That could take awhile :)

Best Wishes for a Safe, Happy, Healthy New Year! Boy, Twenty-Ten is going to be weird to say.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Just in the St. Nick of Time!

Finally. Got the lefse made, shopping and crafting done, and gifts wrapped.  I'm never this late - usually done by Thanksgiving, but the 'usual' routine has been a bit UNusual this year with hubby out of work. However, being out of sync has its way of putting things into perspective.  We've been more conscious of the donations we make and how they might affect others, and have put more thought into what is truly important in our lives.  It's easy to say 'family comes first' or 'the giving is more important than the receiving', but to really live those sayings opens not only your eyes, but your heart as well.  My 'Plan Ahead' nature has been forced to wing it a few times!  Here's to being able to roll with the punches and still be ready for St. Nick :)

The girls and I made the Christmas lefse Saturday.  We make it every year for my Dad's side of the family.  My cousin and I asked my Grandma to teach us how to make lefse a few years before she passed away.  That day is a great memory.  Boy, did we laugh a lot that day!  Grandma had the potatoes all ready when we arrived, and when we asked her how you prepare the potatoes, she didn't really have a recipe.  "You just mix in the flour until it feels glue-y" she said.  We got her to write a recipe down, and while she wrote, we rolled the lefse out thin.  (Or rather, we tried to roll it thin.)  The trick is to roll out the dough as thin as you can with as little flour as possible. (Remember, you are literally rolling out mashed potatoes!) We had dough stuck on the pin, on the counter, you name it.  Flour everywhere, and Grandma reminding us not to use any more flour.  Our attempts were hilarious, but we've provided the Christmas lefse every year since.  She would be proud!  And to think she helped her mother make it each Christmas Eve, on a wood stove.  (It's hard enough on a griddle with a control to set the temperature!)

We usually have a plate of lefse rolled up with butter and sugar on Christmas Eve.  We also usually have ham for dinner, so some of us like ham rolled up in plain or buttered lefse.  The girls and I like the 'mistakes' we make when making the lefse the best - hot off the griddle!  We have a picture of Grandma in a little frame that the girls pretend is watching us make the lefse.  They call her "Triple G" - Great-Grandma-Grace.  Grandma liked lutefisk with her lefse as a Christmas treat, but we have never carried on THAT tradition. 

I also make homemade turtles every year.  I get really good milk chocolate and caramel from a candy supply store, and use my cute little turtle molds to make the turtles.  Ted is allergic to nuts, so I always make some turtles without nuts.  See the one in the pink wrapper on the left?  There are several pink turtles in with the rest to note which ones don't have nuts.  They are the girl turtles.

We also made some krumkake, and some mint-wich cookies.  Enough!  My hips are screaming already.  No more goodie-baking this year.

Sunday, the English Major and I went downtown on the new Northstar Commuter Train.  Great way to go downtown and not have to fight the one-ways and parking - we just hope the train is popular enough to add some more departures/arrivals.  There are only 3 trips down and 3 trips back on the weekend days for now.

Downtown Minneapolis is where Mary Tyler Moore lived - remember that oldie?  Here's the landmark statue in front of Macy's.  We visited Macy's to see the 8th Floor Auditorium Display of "A Day in the Life of an Elf".  Very elaborate displays for children - little rooms showing the elves bunkhouse, the kitchen with their breakfast being prepared, the North Pole animals in the forest decorating the tree, the overloaded mail room, etc.  There were, of course, tons of children there with us.  Wide eyes and excitement bouncing off the walls, let me tell ya!  At the end of the display tour, which takes about 15-20 minutes, there is a line to see Santa.  (Make that a horrendously LONG line.)  So, many of those wide-eyed children had their Christmas best on too.  I would have loved to have taken pictures of all these kids faces, but their moms and dads were doing a good job of that already.

So, on top of the Christmas baking and shopping and wrapping, we squeezed in a little seasonal enjoyment.  Christmas music, shining kids' faces and beautifully decorated storefront windows.  Sounds like some snow will be falling on Christmas Eve here - and could be quite an accumulation.  And so it goes.  Christmas is definitely here.

Whatever the traditions, I hope everyone has a wonderful, Merry Christmas.

Secret Santa from Singapore

Another Secret Santa gift arrived last week - all the way from Singapore.  Valerie from the Intatters group sent me this pretty red motif, along with some red and green thread, some mini-clothespins with Shamrocks on them, and some silver beads.  I have really enjoyed this exchange - and look forward to participating in more as time permits.

I will be learning to add beads to my tatting in the Phase II Artisan program that I will be working on in 2010. (And probably 2011 and 2012, too!)  The threads are pretty red and green - perfect for Christmas 2010, or maybe that green with the cute little clothespins for something St. Patrick-y.  We'll see!
I've gotten a little bit of tatting done this past week also - a couple of bookmarks and some incomplete snowflakes.  One bookmark is a gift, and one is FINALLY for me!  This is one I've made a few times now - I'd love to do it in several more color combinations just to have on hand.

And this one is from the thread that my coworker brought me from India.  The pattern is here, and was designed by one of my Secret Santas.

The threads that have that metallic thread in them have been a little difficult for me to use so far - it seems that  I always break the metallic thread or it's very twisty to work with.  This particular thread was beautiful to work with and seems strong.  It looks like the brand is "Red Rose" from India - or maybe that's the color?  I will have to look at the label again.   I really like this pattern too - it was very easy, and is a pretty one to use with variegated thread.

The tatting and sewing are now on break for a few days!  It all will be back out soon because I have time off between Christmas and New Year's with NO plans.  I love that unscheduled time!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Dashing Through the Snow . . .

Another snowy, slippery Minnesota commute this morning - yuck.  I really don't mind the snow except when it makes for poor driving conditions.  And stupid drivers.  You'd think people who live here would remember from year to year, but some folks always seem to forget how to drive on snow.  There are the speed demons who must get to their destination faster than you can.  And then there are those that think they must crawl or they will slip off into oblivion somewhere.  I fall somewhere in between - I don't get too close to anyone, and I don't particularly care to race.  Moderation folks, moderation.  Sheesh.  And now for the deep freeze.  Temperatures will be dipping below 0F tonite, with a high of about 5F tomorrow.  I will take the snow before the below-zero temps!

(OK.  Enough weather.  It's just what we talk about here in Minnesota.)

I received another InTatters Secret Santa gift last week - from Imoshen in California.  This nice surprise in a stocking included some beads, some plastic rings, some thread keepers, a shuttle, and a pretty blue motif that I can add to something special:

I really needed those thread keepers - I have oodles of thread I have unwound from shuttles that could use some organization, and I will be learning how to tat onto rings and add beads and buttons in the next phase of the T.A.T. program.   I am still waiting for one more, and I think the Santa gifts I sent have been received. 

I saw a post awhile back on Crazy Mom Tats' blog on using floss threaders to hide thread ends.  I thought it was a great idea, and included some in the Secret Santa packages I was sending out.  I assumed that other tatters knew that the floss threaders are used for hiding ends, but the first recipient of my gift admitted she wasn't sure what they were for.  (Imagine that Kodak look on her face as she wondered why I would send dental floss threaders . . .)  She did inform me that they can also be used as bead threaders.  I guess I will learn about that soon!

The tatting I've been doing lately is minimal - I am such a slow tatter I don't seem to finish much.  And of course, this is a busy time of year!  By the time I sit down and have time to tat, my eyes are done for the day.  Last week I had theater duty on Thursday night for "A Christmas Carol" and on Saturday a.m. for "A Laura Ingalls Wilder Christmas".   Then to lunch and shopping on Saturday, and a little baking on Sunday. 

I'm trying not to rush around like a madwoman and just enjoy the season, but it seems like there's so much to enjoy!  This next weekend the girls and I will make lefse and krumkake on Saturday, and then we will try out the new Northstar Commuter train on Sunday.  This new train system opened in November, and is a very welcome alternate way to commute to downtown Minneapolis.  We will go to Macy's and see the 8th Floor Santaland and display of "A Day in the Life of an Elf".  We haven't gone to this annual display since the girls were little, so it will be a fun girls day.  I believe the last time we went was when I was a daycare provider, and we made little hats and went to the Pinnochio display.  Or maybe Puss N Boots.  In any case, they are beautiful displays.   Dad would sooner poke needles in his eyes, so Scrooge he will stay home.

I hope everyone is remembering to slow down and ENJOY this season of music, kindness, and giving. 
And for heaven's sake, drive safely if you are in a winter wonderland!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Ho, Ho, Ho!

A Secret Santa gift arrived last week from Oregon - what a fun package to get in the mail! Beautiful Lizbeth thread (Jelly Bean and Spring Green) and a pretty bookmark. I can't wait to use this thread :)

This Secret Santa exchange is through the InTatters group.  Funny, I had been thinking that I needed to make a bookmark for myself one of these days, since I continue to give away every one I make.  The English Major has most of them.  It's special to receive one knowing the time and effort put into it.  After admiring my gifts for a little while, I realized that the thread actually matches the gift wrap too - how fun is that? 

I am enjoying meeting other tatters through this group and the exchanges they share.  Everyone is so willing to help with questions and eager to share tips and patterns.  It's especially nice for me since there don't seem to be many tatters or groups near me.  We have the Minnesota Lace Society involving many types of lace, but nothing specifically for tatters.  That group meets every month, but it's a bit far for me to trudge after work when I'm not interested in the other types of lacemaking.  (Or rather, I don't want to become interested in any more hobbies!)

Speaking of no time for new hobbies, this is the only tatting I have been able to accomplish lately - a few wreath ornaments to include in packages and cards:

I am working on a snowflake or two as time permits, but have not accomplished a WHOLE one yet.  LOL.  If nothing else, I am learning that one must pay attention to the pattern and not let the mind wander.  Else one attaches to the wrong picot (or forgets to attach anywhere). I really need to learn to slow down.

 I am getting into the Christmas spirit now!  I'm off to get the tree up and the house decorated for the season.

More Secret Santa stuff to come this week.  And soon it's time for the girls and I to make the Christmas lefse!