Friday, December 27, 2013

New Christmas traditions!

Who says you can't teach an old dog new tricks? Or old parents, as that may be!

Per requests from our adult children, we added a few new activities to our annual Christmas celebration. The changes began several months ago when they requested (GASP!!!) no presents! Yikes...what happened to my consumer driven teens? I guess they're definitely adults now!

Because I actually love giving gifts, I negotiated to let Santa continue to fill stockings for Christmas morn. Heck, I'd already bought a bunch of stocking stuffers and (extra points for me!) I even knew where I had put them. I also talked them into one big gift for each, and they got to select what they wanted.

Another 2013 request was to do some volunteer activity as a family over the holiday. Alan coordinated a morning for all of us to work at an awesome local ministry, United Methodist Open Door. We're well acquainted with this comprehensive facility, but hadn't been there for awhile.

We showed up yesterday AM and after a brief tour, they put us to work. Ali spent the morning working in the office, helping with intake paperwork and filing for the daily clients. The rest of us kept our sweatshirts on and worked in the food warehouse.

The warehouse manager, Willy, kept finding new jobs for us as we whizzed through different food sacking tasks. We spent the last couple hours putting canned goods in recycled grocery sacks (6 cans of veggies and 2 fruit cans!) and putting them on pallets for future distribution.

Our son-in-law, Jeff, worked up a sweat as a he constantly refreshed our canned good supplies while we sacked, then moved the sacked goods to pallets and wrapped them. Darn...we had hoped to make a bigger dent on the remaining stacks of canned goods in photo below, but we know more volunteers will finish our job. Open Door has only 4 employees and relies on lots of faithful volunteers to serve hundreds of clients.

Ali suggested our other new Christmas activity. This was the inaugural year for Ebright Talks. Yes, they're based on the famous TED talks, but we were the presenters! On our last night together we took turns doing short "educational" talks on the subject of our choice. Fueled by popcorn and wine, we had a great time learning from each other! Whew...teaching is a bit stressful, especially when you're not well prepared (that was me). 

Our art teacher daughter, Sarah, borrowed a lesson from her AP Art History class. She got extra points for bringing photos which we viewed on the TV. We learned about early church architecture, and it was fascinating!

Jeff presented a cool lesson on "brainstorming" to do it effectively! He also brought a bunch of power point graphics which we viewed on the TV. Jeff gets extra credit points for using scenes from that famed movie Christmas Vacation as backgrounds on his slides. 

Ali taught us all how to play the piano by music required. After a brief tutorial, we all took turns at the piano and (miraculously) played Happy Birthday, sans music! We sang along to offer each performer moral support.

I did a presentation on antique samplers (go figure!). I handed out an framed sampler reproduction to everyone for my visual aids. Then we did a brief history of this wonderful folk art form. Alan talked about "legacy" and even gave out little gifts as part of his presentation. 

The most memorable (and laughable) portion of the evening was our guest presentator, Dr. Erin McGonigle. Erin and Sarah have been best friends since middle school, so we invited her to participate. Can you tell what's happening in the pic above? If you guessed "they're birthing a baby!" you would be right. 

Dr. Erin brought along some "interesting" visual aids and taught us all how to (safely) birth a baby...should the need arise! Erin was a great teacher to us medical novices, evidenced in the successful pic below! 

Alas, the adult kids have packed and left and we're back to work...and blogging. But now, we've got lots of fond holiday memories to keep us company!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Elves and LOL's busy, overwhelmed Christmas mind is thinking of Christmas elves and LOL's.

What are LOL's? Little Old Ladies, of course. Or, as my Spanish speaking friends call them...abuelitas! I love the way the Spanish language makes everything cute with the addition of "ita" or "ito" on the end of a noun. Literally, "abuela" means "grandma", but "abuelitas" can mean "cute little old ladies". And isn't that a sweeter way of referring to ladies of a certain age?!

My mom (center) lives in a large senior living facility here in Wichita. She has a great apartment and fun friends, but truly doesn't need Christmas gifts...not the traditional kind, anyway. So I offered to throw her a little Christmas party for her best LOL pals in her own apartment. Last minute, of course!

After Mom agreed to let me invade her home, I enlisted the help of my talented sister-in-law, Donna. Donna is also a great cook and table decorator, so the perfect companion on my Christmas caper. After Mom had the guest list, we visited her apartment to work on table decor. We used lots of Mom's stuff (including my favorite red glasses), then left with lists of other things we would schlep in from our homes to complete the look. We also divided up the menu and got to work shopping and cooking in our own homes.

What happens when you hand an octogenarian an iPhone to take pictures? Well, last night I got lots of fuzzy photos. But here's the best pic of me, Mom and Donna (right to left). The cool thing was, Mom's pal Chris absolutely loved my iPhone and was thrilled to learn something new! Maybe Santa will bring her an iPhone for Christmas?

After we gathered and chatted a bit, we fixed the dinner plates in the kitchen, seated the ladies, poured water and wine...and left!!! Donna and I went to the mall for some holiday shopping (in search of the classic LOL track suits for Mom) and left the ladies to eat and chat.

Before we left, we also served up this luscious baked hot fudge dessert (I LOVE this stuff!) and left the coffee maker and dessert ready to go in the kitchen. Before we returned the LOLs had finished their dinner and dessert plates and we heard laughter as we came down the hall. 

We completed our elf duties by doing all the dishes, and returning the apartment to it's pre-party look. We may have eaten some leftovers and finished with heavenly hot fudge dessert. 

For our other elfin adventure, Alan and I traveled to KC to visit Ali in her new loft. She just moved to a larger loft a couple weeks ago and was in dire need of a visit from Santa's elves. When we told her we were coming, she got lots of little projects ready for us. Our 24 hour visit also involved lots of trips to/fro the 
nearby Home Depot. We're not exactly known for being "handy", but we managed a bunch of projects with the help of 2 canine companions. 

Ali and I got to work finishing up a project we began over Thanksgiving. We decided to do hand-printed tea towels for both of our Christmas gifts for friends. Instead of handing our friends the usual sweet goodies, this year we're gifting them with sugar-free tea towels. 

Over Thanksgiving, we both designed and cut linoleum blocks for our tea towel designs. I haven't cut a linoleum block since 7th grade art class, but managed to do it without sending myself to the ER. I completed printing my towels and got to work heat-setting them (thanks, Alan), and packaging them for gifting. Below are my finished towels (hanging out on my dryer next to the grand dog's Santa suit) ready for quick gifting. 

Ali's towels seemed to be on "hold" after her recent move, so we resumed the project together in KC. Ali used her logo from her food blog Gimme Some Oven. Check out her beautiful new "free" kitchen in the background, or visit her blog to get all the lovely details Her food-blogging gig really has some perks!

Our biggest accomplishment was Ali's new Instagram photo wall, just as you enter her loft. After much calculation...and more calculation...and lots of tiny nails...and more tiny nails...we got 48 frames filled with photos and mounted. FYI - if you take Instagram pics, it's easy to print them at Walgreen's. 

We straightened all the frames after this pic, then affixed them to the wall with Glu-Dots so they don't get crooked when the door slams, or humans and dogs pass by. Alan is proudly displaying his advanced calculations in the pic above!

I've still got a bit of "traditional" Christmas shopping left, but really treasure the time we spent doing elfin duties this year...creating activities and memories together. Maybe next year we'll find some elf hats?

Merry Christmas to All!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Coming in January!

What? You already think December is a crazy blur and I'm talking about 2014? If you need a holiday spirit today, I'm sharing this cute pic of my granddog, Henry. Doesn't he make you want to grin and "hohoho"?!

Yes, this is the same famous dog who starred in 2 Hallmark Thanksgving cards this fall. Nothing says "thankful" like a cute dog in a sweater, right? Henry recently auditioned (yes, they audition!) for another Hallmark gig and we are waiting to see if he gets the job with our fingers crossed and tails wagging.

Back to the needlework biz! Everyone wants to know what's the newest, hottest thing off the press. And they really want to know in advance of the actual release date.

So here's a sneak peek of our new Flip-it series for 2014. We're doing our first ever 4 Seasons Flip-its. We thought long and hard about a clever name, but decided on the obvious, 4 Seasons!

It's a small Flip-it series...only 4 parts! Each Flip-it is full of seasonal color, sampler-ish motifs, and Lizzie*Kate whimsy. As always, each part comes with embellishments. We used 3 tiny buttons on each one, with different colors for each season.

The designs are bigger than the usual Flip-its, each 61W x 75H. They're great individually or you can combine them into a wide seasonal line-up. Stitched all together and using our FREE border, the finished design will be 275W x 99H.

We'll have complete FREE instructions on our website to combine everything. The saying we added to the border is "To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven." Ecclesiastes 3:1.

We're really excited to begin 2014 with this series! The Spring and Summer design will be available in early January. Autumn and Winter designs will conclude the series in March.

With only 4 parts, we think this series will be popular and easy to complete. You can add this to your New Year's resolutions. This will be the FUN resolution you'll actually ENJOY completing...stitch by stitch!