Friday, December 30, 2016

5 thing Friday - cards, more traffic!, The Girl, Christmas fun and games, nails

Our Christmas cards this year were so last minute.  I had Scout take a quick pic of he and his brothers, used a pic of The Girl and Teddy at the tree farm, and fished around for this pic of Hubby and I this summer.  Then I had them printed at Walgreen's for about $10.  Underwhelming.
I totally let that drop this year. I didn't even bring up the idea of pictures at Thanksgiving like I usually do.  I will be better about it next holiday season!  Along with crafting, decorating, and everything else I just felt so blah about... Some of those things add a happy kind of creative stress, and they define the holidays for me.
On the daily, Hubby complains about the traffic in Austin.  No matter what time of day, if there is sun out, there is traffic.  To get anywhere in a reasonable amount of time, you either have to leave home before 7 a.m. or after 7 p.m. Pictured above is the very full feeder road running alongside an equally full 183.  Ugh.  I did so much shopping on Amazon for gifts this year - totally worth my sanity.
The Thursday before Christmas I took gifts to my mother, helped clean her sewing room, changed out sheets and quilts on her bed, and enjoyed a lunch out.  She got teary a couple of times - I think the holidays are tough on the elderly for so many reasons.  She barely participates any more and giving her gifts gives her a side order of guilt.
 Her shirt says "Santa, Stop Judging"
The Girl and Teddy were here about 5 days.  Seems like shorter.  I wish Houston was not so far away. I bet she does, too.  We are discussing whether it would be a good idea for us to keep Teddy over the busy season.  I hate that for her, as Teddy is therapeutic for her after a long day.  But I also hate thinking of him alone in a quiet apartment for hours and days on end.
The tree on Christmas morning.  We all slept in and took our time opening gifts.  Then we had a breakfast casserole and sangria.  Mostly people layed around the rest of the day and did whatever they wanted to.
We played a few games here and there, but not all 6 of us together.  Next year, we need to get some kind of thing going - contests, prizes, special apps - to lure people in from the couch...
The Girl gave me some nail supplies since she knows I have been stressing the condition of my hands.  I think I have narrowed the culprit of the weak and peeling nails to the hand foam we use at work.  Not only is it alcohol-based, but harsh enough to kill germs, and apparently nails, too.  I'm going to keep them polished so they will look better, start back up on the biotin, and treat them gently.
Happy last Friday of the year! 

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Fun times with Carol

Just before Christmas, my friend Carol and I had a mini Girl's Weekend.  Since my phone was being wonky, and I kept displacing my charging cord, I got pitifully few pics.  But it was so nice to get together just before the holiday stress hit in full force.  Carol picked me up on Friday and we headed to San Antonio to see Billy Joel in concert - such a great show!  Three hours long and 32 of his songs, not to mention a rendition of Highway to Hell by his roadie as BJ played electric guitar.  We didn't get to bed until midnight and I slept until 8:30 which never happens!
The next morning, Carol's sister, Lydia, picked us up for breakfast and took us here.  {Um, no, not to the bar.  That bar opens up into the bakery area of La Margarita.}   As you can see it was very busy!  We actually got there at the perfect time, because by the time we left there was a line out the door.
We had the BEST Mexican breakfast - I had the barbacoa, scrambled eggs, home fries, and homemade tortillas.  So good!
The place was even more decorated than it usually is.  Since I sat gaping for most of the time, I didn't take near enough pics.  So many tiny colored lights everywhere, not to mention sparkly ornaments and greenery.  Carol and Lydia made great breakfast companions and we laughed a lot.
The two of them spent less than $10 apiece on goodies.  Me? I spent around $28.  There was so much to choose from!  I took a big box back to my peeps.
Hubby and I went to La Margarita years ago and I remembered the candied orange halves - they were still there.  Along with so many other wonderful things.  Empanadas, coconut patties, pralines, pink cake, pecan and coconut cookies...
After breakfast we headed to Dripping Springs for the wine pick-up party at Sidecar.  I'm gonna make Carol a wine snob yet.
It was cozy up at the "bar", so she did a tasting and I enjoyed a glass.
Then we grabbed a bowl of Poke-E-Joe's chili frito pie with corn casserole.
We settled in at a table out front to listen to live music and chat.  Around 3 p.m., we decided we better high tail it to Burnet - we had another pick-up party to attend at Torr Na Loch.
We got there in time to find it PACKED as it was cold outside, so no one was really hanging out on the patio.  We did a short tasting and tried some BBQ turkey meatballs, and some chocolate crinkle cookies, but the main star of our show was this white wine sangria.  They flavored it with rosemary sprigs and cranberries and it was delightful.
You can barely see Inks Lake in the distance...
We got home around 6, popped some chicken in the oven, opened another bottle of wine, and socialized until 9 p.m. at which point Carol and I both were ready to call it a day, as she had to drive back to Houston the next day and I had to work.  
But it was all worth it for fun Girl's time together!

Monday, December 26, 2016


Sunday was a special day at our house for more than the obvious reason...
The baby turned 18.  We all sat at the table, finishing up dinner, talking with him about what it means to be adult - all the can's and can'ts...can't order a Happy Meal anymore, but can serve in the military, vote, go to jail. Can buy cigarettes.  Can drop out of school legally.  Can get a tattoo.  Can get married without parental consent.  Adulthood isn't all it's cracked up to be...  I'm hoping Bubbie has had a solid foundation, and with all of us behind him, will find his way in this big world.  But, scary times, I tell ya...  This week he gets his driver's license (finally!!), I am working an extra two days, Hubby is taking a much needed break from work, The Girl and Teddy head back to Houston, I have my last physical therapy appointment, and we may head to Highlands for a day away.  I will work all of next weekend, so as usual, the weekend will pass in a blur.  I m not sad to see 2016 go and am looking forward to the new year being awesome. 
What does your week look like?

Friday, December 23, 2016

Two quick crafts (aka tacky homemades)

I was really off my crafty game this Christmas season - I just could never quite get motivated to start.  However, I did promise a friend I would make tacky homemades. 
Here was my inspiration:
A burlap cross on reclaimed wood by simpleandsage on Etsy.  I had so much wood in the garage I could use for this, but I got started on it too late.  Plus the garage is a disaster, so there was nowhere to work!  I ended up buying a shabby'd plaque at Michaels, and some ribbon.  I think I might want to make one for myself, too!
 I also made that tiny trees ornament.  Equally easy!
I bought a big clear plastic ornament (this one has their family's initial on it) and some faux snow from Michael's, and some mini trees from the Dollar Spot at Tarjay.
The clear glass ones are pretty, but not practical if you have small children who might like to shake the snow in the ornament!  This one had a nice big opening, too.
 I wanted to place three trees (for 3 kiddos) in there, but I made one slightly taller by gluing on a couple of buttons to the base.
Then I carefully put a blob of hot glue on the base of each tree and gently lowered it into the ornament.  I have to say, that was the trickiest part of the whole craft!  A long pair of hemostats would have helped greatly, but I just used some skinny sewing scissors.
I wish I could have found a tiny fox to put in there!
I filled the bottom with the faux snow and even sprinkled in some silver glitter, which mostly ended up below the snow.  Then I replaced the ornament top and tied on a turquoise ribbon.  It was fun and both of the crafts together took not even a whole hour.  But next year I will start sooner and up my crafty game!
I am going to spend the next few days just trying to live in the moment and not think about how I might have done this or that differently and how it might be different next year - no last minute stressing allowed.  The house is clean, the gifts are wrapped, food is prepped...let Christmas begin!

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Christmas cookie baking day!

Here are the cookies I made for assorted gift-giving and family enjoyment this year - very similar to my cookie lists of years past!  I figure a day of cookie baking is sure to chase the holiday blues least that's what I'm hoping!

3/4 c. shortening
1 c. sugar
1/4 c molasses
1 egg
2 c flour
2 t baking soda
1/2 t salt
1 T ground ginger
1 t ground cinnamon
Colored sugar or sprinkles
Preheat oven to 350.  Cream shortening and sugar, mix in egg and molasses.  Sift the dry ingredients and mix into wet. Form into 1 inch balls and roll in colored sugar.  Place 2 inches apart on baking sheet and bake 12 minutes.
 These are so great right out of the oven and they freeze well, too

Graham Cracker Cookies*
14 sheets graham crackers
1/4 c sugar
2 T dark brown sugar
1/2 t baking soda
1/4 salt
6 T butter, melted and cooled
1 large egg, slightly beaten
1/2 t vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350 and prepare your cookie sheet with parchment paper.  Crush grahams until they have the texture of sand.  Whisk together the sugar, brown sugar, baking soda, and salt and add to the crumbs.  Add the butter, egg, and vanilla until you have a soft dough.  Roll 1 inch balls of dough and space 2 inches apart on cookie sheet.  Bake 8 to 10 minutes, then let cool before you transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely. (disclaimer:  I added mini chocolate chips to these because, chocolate!)
*I got this recipe from the Kitchn website - they have great cookie recipes!

Toasted Oat Cookies (my mother's recipe)
3/4 c. butter
2 1/2 c oatmeal
1/2 c flour
1 c light brown sugar
1 egg
1 t cinnamon
1/2 t salt
1/2 t soda
1 t vanilla
optional:  1/2 c raisins, nuts, or craisins (this time around I used candied orange and slivered almonds. My candied orange peel came from the bakery here, but you could sub in whatever you like or even leave it out entirely)
Pre-heat oven to 350.  Melt the butter in a heavy skillet, add the dry oatmeal ad cook til lightly toasted, stirring often.  Set aside to cool.  Mix brown sugar, egg, and vanilla until well-mixed.  Sift the dry ingredients and add to the egg/sugar mix.  Stir in cooled oats and raisins or nuts if desired.  Drop by spoonfuls on greased cookie sheet.  Bake approximately 10 minutes.

Russian Teacakes (a favorite from my childhood)
1 c butter, softened
1/2 c powdered sugar
1 t vanilla
2 1/4 c flour
1/4 t salt
3/4 c finely chopped pecans
Pre-heat oven to 400 and line your cookie sheet with parchment or a Silpat.  Mix the butter and powdered sugar with vanilla,  Sift the flour and salt and gradually work it into the butter mixture. (this is a very stiff dough!) Add in pecans and mix well.  Form into 1 inch balls (they will not flatten while baking).  Bake 10-12 minutes.  Cool slightly and roll into powdered sugar.  Cool completely and roll once more. 
I also made Kitchen Sink cookies, to use up some nuts, chocolate chips and coconut in my pantry - I just changed up a basic chocolate chip cookie.  I bought some cute containers for gift giving,
and will freeze some for our family on a pretty tray, all ready to pull out on Christmas Eve.  With some hot cocoa and the fireplace going, it will make for a sweet evening!

Monday, December 19, 2016

What the week holds and the final push to Eagle

The final push is on for several things here and I am sure Bubbie is feeling the burn - I know his parents are.  On his very full plate is finishing up his Eagle work, finals and finishing up the semester, and practicing parallel parking so he can finish up on getting his driver's license.
On a dreary evening last week, I waited 2 1/2 hours for him to fulfill some volunteer hours at Austin Creative Reuse.  Not that I'm a nervous Nellie or anything...But no way was I just going to drop him off at a shop in a strip center across from a closed mall.  Nope. I'll just wait right here, son.
This will be the last year I buy a kid's ornament for the kids' tree.  (18 ornaments times 4 kids = not enough room on this tiny tree) I think it's fitting that the last one represents such a goal - he and his dad have worked hard to get him to this point.  Keep your fingers crossed that he gets everything done on time without losing his mind!  I haven't hung it on the tree yet, because I don't want to jinx him...  This week I am in charge of the Monday Mini Holiday party at work, taking Bubbie to the dentist (yet another drain on his free time), going to Brenham to take Christmas gifts to my mother, and hopefully meeting The Girl at Saddlehorn on the way home.  Hubby has traveling to do, and we have Christmas shopping to finish up, as well as planning Bubbie's 18th birthday.  New Year's Day will be here before we know it!  What does your week look like?

Friday, December 16, 2016

Thrifty clothes for downtimes

One day last week I went shopping for myself out of desperation to be comfy on my off days.  Fist on the list:  these cheapo men's house shoes/moccasins from Academy.  For some reason I have been really wanting a pair!  I wear them around the house with socks.  They have zero padding or arch support and I don't care.  And for $8 I consider them thrifty, since they are lined with flannel and made of suede.
 All the women's styles had bows and/or fluffy fake sherpa inside them.  ugh.
I went to my fav thrift shop and found a bonanza of blue jeans!  Five pair of  jeans in my size and in great shape!  A couple of them will be "working in the yard" jeans.  The others I can pair with a sweater and clogs while I am out running errands.  Jeans are so expensive nowadays...these were marked $6 or less apiece AND the lady gave me a senior discount after tsk tsking me that I hadn't come on Wednesday when all the clothes were marked 50% off.
I also found 3 long sleeve shirts - one flannel, one corduroy, one broadcloth.  I love that you can roll up the sleeves and usually I look for men's thrift store shirts so that I have more sleeve to work with.  With my stylish moccasins I paid less than $30 for all of the above and now I am cozy comfy on my days off!  What about you - done any thrifting lately?

Wednesday, December 14, 2016


Is it true that a grown-up is merely a child with layers on?  I think it's true that we see in our kids a glimpse of who they are destined to become.  We see it in their nature, their way of speaking and moving, how they go about their day as children.  Then we can get a spark of what they will be like as adults.
 It's certainly true that I can see the adult layers on Scout, but also the little boy still inside. Still gentle and kind.  Still loving.  Yep, still my boy.
  Willing to spend time with me still, even if it includes going to his brothers' high school band concerts,
and sitting next to a mom who does a poor job of  "secretly" photographing him. It's nice to be near Scout.  He does a good job of making a day seem a little softer around the edges.


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