Monday, November 29, 2010

Clean as a Whistle -- We Hope

Several weeks ago, I was holding Gyppy like a baby, looked at his tummy and saw teeny black bits on him. So, out came the flea comb and yup -- fleas.

Well, I freaked. Called the vet who said because of his age, they don't like to do things like Frontline or flea collars until last resort. Step one, give the cat a bath. Step two -- strip beds and do sheets, etc. Step 3 -- vacuum. Again and again. Step 4 -- Lather, rinse and repeat if they don't go away in a couple of weeks.

Well, I think you know where I'm going with this one. And let me say, it wasn't fun. I'm sure it wasn't fun for Gypsy, either.

The kitchen had just been cleaned -- now there was soapy water everywhere. Which is better than dirt, I guess. Or fleas. Mostly he just tried to get away, but now and then he'd let out this bloodcurdling scream.

I will say, baby shampoo is making him very fluffy! I'll also say that before he dried out, his skinny tail made me laugh.

Well, then, I decided that it was time to rearrange the bedroom furniture, as long as I was stripping everything -- turn the mattress, move the bed, vac under it (where Gyp sometimes hangs out.)

Now, my bedroom isn't very big, and boy -- what a mess. I will say I slept better than I have in ages and I wonder if it was getting rid of the under-bed dust.

Meanwhile, Gyp wants his regular sleeping spot by me and was having trouble adjusting to the new arrangement -- and I was of two minds having him in bed with me. By the time I sat down to watch Dancing with the Stars, I felt as though I had been through a war!

Time passes. We have bathed again, far more successfully and compliantly this time. We've vacuumed early and often, and I'm thinking we may have this licked. That said -- regular flea checkings are now part of the daily routine!

I hope everyone had a lovely holiday -- onward and upward -- let the Merriment Season begin!

Friday, November 26, 2010

And the Winner Is...

Well, there are three winners. I decided to add a second and third place to my Simple Abundance blog drawing! Thanks to for picking numbers 76, 117 and 100!

So, the winner of the book is Annie!

The other two winners, who will receive something I'll choose from my creative stash this weekend are Jill and Nancy (aka Blissed Out Grandma).

I'll try to get things to you before Rick and I leave for his trade show next week! And I want to thank everyone for commenting! This drawing thing is so much fun, I may have to do it again!

Hope your Thanksgivings were terrific!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving

This year I am thankful to be spending Thanksgiving with friends, with a Thanksgiving Eve dinner at one home, dinner itself at another. And uncharacteristically, I am so looking forward to not being responsible for dinner!

Of course I'll bring something -- pumpkin soup to the Eve celebration (I made it last night and just sort of winged it -- it was so good, I could barely stop tasting!); stuffing for Thursday.

But I'm not responsible.

For once, the house is as clean as a whistle -- cleaner than you'll ever know, but that's a story for another post. I could have guests. But oh, so nice to spend it away this year, even though away is only a few miles.

As I was dressing this morning, I thought of the past Thanksgivings after the moms died and dad and I would head to Cleveland to be with the family. We did that for several years, till travel became difficult.

Then I became responsible. Whether I cooked at my house or dad's, I was in charge, making sure everything came out at the same time (not my strongest suit) and that it tasted good. When Rick and I got together, we shared the cooking, which has been wonderful (because I hate mashing potatoes, for one thing).

But I'm still responsible.

I believe there is a point in our lives when we -- meaning our generation, and more likely than not, the women -- take over the holiday dinners. It's one of those signs of growing up, as real as balancing the checkbook, managing the budget, bringing home a paycheck and then dividing it up with precious little left for fun.

It's almost always synonymous with moving away from home -- even if that's only a few miles away.

You put those skills you've learned to work -- who knew when you were playing with the pink toy stove as a child that one day you'd fill a large one with turkey?

You learned about being careful around the burners, perhaps had a few scars (or burned foods) to show for it. Maybe you still do! (I know I do!) But you've learned how to cook the veggies. (If you're lucky, you have a Rick to make the gravy.)

You've learned what is beautiful and work to make your table reflect your style. Simple or elaborate, natural or over the top.

You've learned how to have guests in your home -- how to take care of them so the will leave feeling warm and full, even if you didn't have a bite and ate in the snow.

And hopefully, you've learned how to say, "Sure, you can bring the salad" (or dessert or veggies or appetizers!)

My cousin Mutty hosts the Cousin Thanksgiving in Cleveland now. The family is an extended one, with her husband's family, brother, sister and their families. The kids are home from school. And, depending on the year, some may be celebrating at in-laws. We may talk on the phone, send greetings, and know we're grateful to have a loving family, as spread out as it may be.

The thing that's different from so many years past is that now our generation is the "old" one. The moms and dads have died and now we're in charge. We welcome the younger generation with joy, happy to see how our family trees continue.

I have much to be thankful for this year -- a year when no one has been in the hospital, we're still employed, have a roof over our heads. There's lots of love, lots of friends (I count you in that number) and a furry feline with a great purr.

We have lost family members and friends, and that hurt tremendously. But we're grateful to have had these people in our lives.

I send you warm Thanksgiving greetings -- whether you are hosting or being a guest, dining at a restaurant or serving at a shelter. If you are facing challenges, I hope you will find something lovely to hang onto during this season. If you have experienced loss, that your memories will soothe you.

And may you look forward to joy.

Please remember you have till midnight on Thanksgiving evening/day to enter the drawing for "Simple Abundance" (and something else to be determined!). (NOTE: The drawing is closed -- see the next post for winners!) Good luck to you all! And feel free to save the vintage postcard images in this post for your creative use!

Monday, November 22, 2010

A Big Week

It has been a good, if busy week. A bit star-studded!

Monday we saw David Sedaris at our local bookstore. I should probably say we HEARD, rather the saw, him. The bookstore was jam packed and we were behind a very tall shelf. Now and then -- when the stool police weren't passing by -- we would stand on a little stool and could see him briefly.

Didn't matter. When Sedaris is involved, it's what he says, not what he looks like. He spoke for about an hour, reading from his newest book, then signed autographs.

We didn't stay for that, but I'm told he was extremely gracious and took time with everyone.

And yes, he was very funny. Now I really want to read his book -- it's a shame that one of the stories he read was omitted from it -- the editor said it was too much.

Then it was art sale time. I've been busy finishing so many projects. Here are a few... Small stars, collaged with pages from a French book (Thank you, Tara!) and glittered up (those are above)... And journals large and small.

Matchbox ornaments. My inspiration came from posts by Linda Jo, Patty and Nathalie.

Purses and scarves, of course...

...and cards. These are the collaged cards, but I also had note cards with photos from Paris and France.

...and these watercolor cards are new this year. There were several different designs.

I was very fond of the Christmas cards. The watercolors below are new and I also had fun with ribbon and holiday embellishments. I may do more of these for Christmas.

These didn't photograph so well as I'd like, but they are laminated counter samples, collaged and beribboned.

I also had some fairy forest trees -- bottle brush trees that were bleached, hand-painted and glittered, inspired by posts by Linda and Karla. And of course, you saw the peat pots and bird houses earlier.

I have to say, it was a wonderful show -- and while the traffic seemed slow (let's compete against a home football game and the annual tree-lighting/holiday parade) it was very good indeed and I did perhaps better than expected.

The house looked beautiful, and it's always fun to see your things in a "different light." This is some of Jane's jewelry -- but it gives you an idea of the setting.

Even more fun where there are spaces where your merchandise used to be!

I'll admit a universal hatred to pricing things -- People expect items to be inexpensive because they are made by a person, not sold in a store. I won't do that -- I work with good materials (especially yarn) and I'd rather keep it and share it than undersell.

But not to worry -- I still have good things left over for Christmas and to add to my November blog drawing!

(Don't forget, you are entering my November drawing when you comment!)

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Chicago -- Big Buildings, Beautiful Art

Chicago. The Windy City. It could have been terrible in mid-November.

It was stunning! Even the billboards were artistic!

Brilliant blue sky. Warm temperatures. Walking weather.

And color everywhere. That was part of what was so surprising -- the brilliant reds and golds on the streets and in the parks.

On our first day, we shopped a bit. And of course, for me that meant a must-visit to Paper Source, a wonderful store with abundant papers, stationery and clever gifts.

Loved the wreath in the window...

...and this was just one small part of the upstairs.

There was shopping in the Museum of Contemporary Art shop, Crate and Barrel, and the next day, at Garret's, the must-stop popcorn shop.

I have always loved Chicago architecture. This time, the white buildings stood out against the blue sky...

...framed by berried branches...

...and gently waving flags.

I was shocked there was still so much color and such greenery.

Then there was The Bean. I know it has an official name, something fancy. But everyone calls it The Bean.

Located in Millennium Park, it is the ultimate mirror ball trophy!

Kate, Cindy and I couldn't resist a self-portrait -- but neither could anyone else!

The park also had this lovely sculpture -- looking all the more striking against the red branches.

We headed for the Art Institute and this staircase that greeted us. All the steps from the main lobby had these illuminated words.

We took off to the Thorne Miniature Rooms immediately.

These were designed by the wife of the Montgomery Ward heir, and the fact that she had unlimited resources and probably a good amount of time on her hands is evident in the detailed miniature rooms, all half-inch/foot scale.

These are so exquisite, so detailed, it makes one gasp. No expense was spared.

A few were decorated for the holidays.

They represented both American and European homes (some very grand homes -- let's call them castles.)

This English modern room looked like a set for "Private Lives."

Of course I had to visit the children's book exhibit...

...and the textiles.

And no visit to the Art Institute is right without a visit to the extensive Impressionist exhibits.

There were Monets and Renoirs...

...and of course this most famous Seurat. Everoyone took photographs. So did I!

We saw landmarks, like the Route 66 Begins Here sign.

Our walk back to the hotel to catch the bus home was quick. After all, we saw the time -- and the bus left at two.

Past the river, back to the hotel. We all wished we had more time...

But what a wonderful day!

Thanks so much for helping me relive a couple of fun days. Don't forget, all comments through Thanksgiving are entered into my drawing for the book "Simple Abundance" -- and something else, too!

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