Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Craft Swap !!

For the last two years, a group of ten of us have had a craft swap for Christmas. You make nine of your craft ... you know, like a cookie swap. The gifts range from pickles & jellies to sewn items to cards to wall hangings, tree ornaments, organizers, birthday books, jewelry, candle holders, wrapping accessories ... you name it. Amazingly, every craft is completely different. And so beautiful ! The nicest thing is that each person really cares about what they make and wants so much for everyone to like it. It seems to really be what Christmas should be ... a gathering of friends sharing homemade heartfelt gifts. Perfect !!
The evening is fun ... we eat, we chat, we laugh, and then we take turns passing out our crafted gifts. And each one brings "oohs" and "aahs" and lots of questions about "how it's made". Because each person is a crafter there is such an appreciation for the work and techniques. It is an inspiring thing !!
This year we had the swap at the store ... I didn't want to decorate at home this year ! So I cleaned up the spare room at the store and set up the table. I needed a tablecloth because the table is 4'x8'... none of mine fit. I found one that fit ... perfectly ...a nice burgundy ... nice traditional burgundy ... perfect size. I carried it around the store for a long time ... something wasn't right ... nice traditional burgundy ... THAT WAS IT !!! All my decorations are bright aqua, lime green, orange, fuchsia, etc ... I just can't seem to get into a traditional scheme.It looks beautiful ... when other people do it ! So I found 2 raspberry coloured cloths that would cover the table and I felt right again ! Can't step away from the brights I guess !!
Here are the crafts I made ... Holiday Planners ...
and S'More Kits to make in the oven. Just a fun little add on !
This year we had mustard pickles and raspberry jam (can't wait to try those !), a lovely clear ball filled with snowy little branches and berries + cookies, an exquisite mini star book ornament, an amazing Stickled candle holder that took HOURS to Stickle & ornament & zipper pull, a wonderful Birthday organizer (oh I hope it helps me !!),a sweet fleecy little hand stitched vintage stocking, beautiful homemade bows and tags, and a fab card holder. See for yourself !! Isn't the variety amazing ?!
Photobucket ... this was probably the 8th group picture ... our "official photographer" Charlie took pictures with everyone's cameras ...
Anyway, it was a great night. Today I am happily admiring all the great gifts and munching on leftovers ... today I will live on dips and Christmas goodies ... and life will be good !

So ... it is just 10 days to Christmas ...we went shopping last weekend and did pretty well ... just a few more things to buy for my family .I have some caramel corn to make, seasoning mixes,some more S'more Kits, a few things like that ... but no big deal. Our house is a kitten disaster ... okay, people disaster too ... we share the blame too !! But I am not decorating so we are just rolling with it ... who cares ?! So now everything seems easy for the holidays ... just delivering some gifts, making a few homemade treats, eating with family, visiting, seeing our newly engaged niece freshly home from Norway, all fun and relaxing. Christmas is really - for many of us - just 2 days so why do a month's prep for it ?? Relax ... chill out ... decide what's important ... and HAVE FUN !!!
Have a great week !!!
Here's a little update photo of Dillee ... why did we worry about how she would make out with the other cats ?? Really ... how will THEY make out ??

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

YawN ...yAwn ....yAWn ....

Nope, not bored. Not hardly ! T-I-R-E-D. TIRED. Pooped. Exhausted. Tuckered out. No steam. I think you get it.
I have been doing the proverbial "burning the candle at both ends" but I think I may also be torching the middle too... phew. We are always on our way somewhere (a good thing)or in the midst of something ( a good thing) . Add to that our stores are really busy (a good thing), there is a ton of stuff to unpack (good thing again), samples to be made(another GT), and renovations underway here at the store ( a good thing eventually ...) . Add to that a new kitten (an AWESOME thing) and Christmas coming ... YIKES !!! So its all for good happy reasons. But here's the real kicker ... I wake up in the middle of the night and start planning things and CANNOT GO BACK TO SLEEP ... too busy in my head !! So that isn't really helping although I have come up with several plans, projects, etc... Last night it was a window that SQUEEEEEEKED, squeeked, sQuEEEEked in the wind that sent me down to the couch at 4 am after several hours of "head planning & baking".
But I have come up with a few good ideas ... let me share !
1. my Christmas gift list ( that I was naive enough to believe I could get on Sunday ... one day ... nope, didn't happen)
2. my craft for the Craft Swap ... only problem is I've spent several OTHER nights replanning this so now I have too many options. I need a NARROWING DOWN night !
3. cats & kittens. And puppies and dogs. And who takes care of them when no one does? After looking after our summer cat family and finally finding them all homes, I began to think a lot about CAPS (Companion Animal Protection Society) and what a huge amount of work they have and what they are able to do. And what it must cost. And how on earth do they do it ? And how can I help ? So I have come up with A PLAN !!! here it is ... "THE COOKIE THAT CARES". I'm not sure how to raise money. I hate to ask people for money .. I think they should get something for their money. AND I love to bake but don't need to eat that much of it ... (see #9). So I decided that , once a month, I would bake BIG FAT CHEWY COOKIES or YUMMY SWEET CUPCAKES, package them up nicely, and sell them for a toonie each at the store. All proceeds would go to CAPS or a posted charity . The treats will be different each month but hopefully they will be a happy treat for those that want them. That way I can bake ( love it), feed people (love that too!), and help animals (LOVE THAT!!). So watch the blog for the first date ... hope it works !! Let me know what you think ...
4. the renovations to the store - all planned & prepared for. Perfect.
5. renovations to my laundry room for spring.
6. kitten & cat plans. Moving litter boxes, new beds, etc...
7. baked & cooked Christmas gifts ... and I even had time to plan the packaging ...
8. my decision to NOT decorate at home for Christmas ... this may actually GIVE me sleep !! YAY!! Last year was the first year in 20 that we decorated. It was lovely. But the cats lost their window seat and sleeping bench. They were not allowed to climb the trees. It stayed decorated until February. The boxes then stayed in the living room & laundry room until early summer. Not worth it ! So I am FREEING myself from that this year. A little tree (maybe) at the store ... c'est tout !
9. a better eating plan ... again. Back on the wagon !
10. my menu for the Craft Swap ... perhaps in direct conflict with #9 ...

So, you see, the time was well spent ...

Here are a few odds'n'ends that I am loving these days ...
Pioneer Woman's Cookbook ... except for the SNAKE on page 148. Now neatly covered up by Charlie ... (Blurry picture ... sorry ... I was too lazy to take another one ...)
(Why on earth would you want THAT in a cookbook ???!!)

All this FAB stuff from October Afternoon.
My box that arrived from Paper Trey Ink ... love their stuff !! Can't wait to try it all !!!

The dinner I made 2 nights ago ... homemade buttermilk waffles with raspberries & blueberries on top, drizzled with cloudberry syrup and a side of turkey sausage. I am NUTS about turkey sausage ... I don't even usually like sausage very much but the turkey ... yum ! (Maybe that dinner will make up for the soup & bread I made last night ... CANNED soup ...)

Hester ... who will soon go into storage ...sigh ...
Doesn't she look snazzy though with her skull hood ornament? BLING IT ON !!!

And of course all the funny cats that share our house and our sweet new Dillee !!
Have a great week !

... a few of my favourite things ...