Monday, December 31, 2012

So Long, Sunshine

 For all I know, the year ahead could make "The Year of the Pigeon-Toed Duck Waddle" look like a cake walk. Not trying to be Debbie Downer here, but when you reach the ripe age of 50, you just know that kind of stuff...

Those were the exact words that I wrote at the close of 2011, a dreary year full of clouds that brought no rain. In January, I was determined to look ahead to 2012 with a cup half full. That's why I  also wrote this:

...but it's just as certain to bring some pockets of sunshine.

And that, if you recall, was the reason for my yellow theme color and  Finding the Sunshine motto for 2012. In January, I purposed to appreciate the sunshine whenever, wherever, and however God sent it. 

That's exactly what I've done, and frankly folks
 I highly recommend it.    

You may not have heard much from me this year,  (You noticed, right?) but that honestly wasn't because I had the blues.  It had more to do with an acute case of menopausal ADD compounded by an inexplicable bout of  blogger's block.  There are 4,728 unfinished drafts lurking on the dashboard. (I'm hoping that this one doesn't make it 4,729...)

I started every morning with the mug of the year. I named her Smiley but temporarily changed it to 
Smirky when she  baptized Della the Demon Possessed Laptop in the Coffee River. 

My first table of the year was a yellow one.  

It was a farewell dinner for The Practical One, who left in January for an internship in Washington DC.  It turned into a permanent move.    

I found my sunshine in the fact that she had found hers. 

I found the sunshine in the heat of the Georgia summer by creating  a 
sand pail list of summer adventures. 

It was so fun that I'm planning to do it again this year. 

Anyone planning to join me?

 I found the sunshine after an unexpected debit card misadventure by creating 
 No Buy July.  

Don't tell the family, but I might do that again this year, too.
  (Minus the whole debit card part at the beginning.)  

I gave myself a decorating challenge to create a craft room out of an unused bathroom without spending a single dime.

Painted it yellow, of course...

And yes, I still love it. 

Just when I was able to spend again, we set sail on an unexpected Unemployment Adventure. I found the sunshine by completing some long overdue  painting, organizing, and purging while I had a man around the place to help me. 

As the year comes to a close, I admit that I'm sad to see it go. 2012  had the best color and best theme that I've ever chosen.  If I could, I would just keep it for 2013. However,  A new color and new theme  must be chosen to celebrate the beginning of each new year. 

That's the rule.
I know because I made it up. 

I've created a loophole, though.  I have decided to dub yellow my official life color.  (People who live their lives from theme to theme can do stuff like that.) I want to be reminded to stop and appreciate the sunshine whenever, wherever, and however God sends it  for the next fifty-onederful years.  

Have I mentioned that I highly recommend it?

So you'll probably see more yellow around here, but you'll be seeing the 2013 color of the year as well. 

I won't reveal what it is yet, I'll just leave you, as usual, with a little hint. 

It's in here.

heh heh heh...

So Happy New Year, everyone!  
I want to take this opportunity to thank everyone 
who has stuck with me even though I've been a sporadic poster and lame blog friend.

 I am truly hoping to get the groove back
in 2013, the year of.......

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

'Twas the day after Christmas...

And all through the house...

Only a blogger would bother with computer and mouse.

Believe it or not, the 26th of December is my Blog Anniversary. Three years ago this morning, I woke up and decided that I needed a post- Christmas distraction.

It's been distracting, all right... 

  This year, the holiday itself has been full of distractions. 
I can't recall a holiday season since the girls were little that kept me so busy.    

Like the big elf himself, this is my first free morning in weeks
 to sit down, take off the boots and hat... 

And share some previously promised pictures
of the Duchess's Christmas Story.

In case you can't figure it out, her theme was
The Day After Christmas, too.  

Poor Santa...

Do not disturb.

Contrary to my conspicuous absence in Blog Land,
I actually had a very merry Christmas. 
By the 22nd, I had two little dears resting under my roof, too. 

And on Christmas Eve, I had another Great Birthday Adventure.  

Turning over 50 may not seem as festive as last year's Golden Jubilee, 
but it is when you dub it a  Fifty- Onederful Birthday Celebration
 and create a theme song to go along with it.

   (I'd sing it for you, but according to The Practical One, it gets stuck in your head and won't go away.)

So that's what has been happening in my neck of the Christmas woods.

How was your Christmas?

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

For The Children

Better late than never, I'm joining the good ladies in the Note Card Party at  A Haven For Vee. That's the party which allows us to share four pictures previously featured on our blogs which might make good note cards.

They don't have to have a theme, but generally speaking, I live my life from one theme to the next, so...

This month, my photo theme is:

For the Children

I've mentioned before that the children who live near the Duchess  call her The Christmas Lady.  That's because she always decorates her home with a little story just  for the children.

Nothing gives her greater pleasure than looking out her window and seeing a car full of  little ones trying to spot all the details in the story the Christmas Lady is telling.

In the wake of the horror that happened less than a week ago, it's tempting to turn off the lights and forget about the merriment this year. But then,  I remember that every year, in every town, there are families for whom the Christmas season isn't a merry one.  This year, it's just so much more conspicuously so.

If it causes us to pause and consider those who mourn and grieve among us, then we have found something good in all the evil. If it causes us to cherish the little ones around us just a little more this year than last, we've found something even better.

So she turned on the lights as usual this week, not in spite of the children but because of them.

Because maybe the best way we can honor the little ones who won't be here this Christmas is to bring a little laughter to the little ones who will.

By the way, for those who asked if I'm going to share her "story" this year, the answer is:  As soon as I have five good minutes and five good pictures.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Because We Can't Protect Them

This probably won't come as a surprise to you, but as a young mother I was something of a worry wart  Not a helicopter parent, necessarily, but one who never let the tether out too far lest some sort of danger befall her daughters.

We sent the girls to a tiny Christian school, mostly for the distinctly Christian education that they would receive but also because I thought it was the place where the girls would be the most safe.

Of course, the worrying didn't stop there either. Tiny little Christian schools, you see, aren't governed by the mandates of the state. They aren't required to have regular fire drills and tornado drills and lock down plans for masked intruders.

And I thought that they ought to.

Toward that end I was a royal pain in the headmaster butt.  I harangued him incessantly about the need for  preparation plans in the face of impending doom.  I wasn't alone, either. I had a group of fellow hovercrafts to back me up, the most vocal of which was my friend Marsha, a women affectionately called "the holy spirit" because of her uncanny ability to speak out the heart of God.

And then one day, a lone shooter walked through the front doors of a church in Dallas, Texas. Without so much as a pause, he began to open fire on unsuspecting Christians gathering for a time of prayer and study.

I was already in bed that evening when I got a call from Marsha.

"Debbie," she said. "We can't keep them safe.   If we're not safe in God's own house, we're not safe anywhere.  We can have all the drills and lock downs we want, and we'll still never be able to give them earthly security.   Our job is the more important one.  If I drop my little girl  at school tomorrow morning, and she doesn't come home in the afternoon, I want to know that I know... that I know that I know...  she's with the Father in Heaven."

She was right of course.

Guns don't kill, and actually people don't kill either. People are just the willing or unwilling accomplices of Satan, the one who comes to kill, steal and destroy. Since God himself is no respecter of persons, why in the world do we expect Satan to be?  He's nothing but a counterfeit god after all, a sloppy copy of the Real Deal who desires nothing more in this world than to break the heart of the Father and crush the spirit of his children.

He did an excellent job of it on Friday, didn't he?

What kind of a world do we live in, where a person would walk into an elementary school and gun down 20 tiny children and their teachers too?

A dark one.

(But) the people who walk in darkness will see a great light.
 Those who walk in the shadow of death, on them will light shine. 
~ Isaiah 9:2.

Praying that the Light of God will pierce the darkness in Newtown, Connecticut this day; that every family will feel His presence tabernacling among them, and that they will know that they know... that they know that they know,  the God of Heaven loves them with an everlasting love.

comments off for Sunday

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

A Little Table Talk

I'm planning to keep this post short on words since I'm way too busy to do much yakking, and you're probably way too busy to hear it.   Let's see if I can do it.

My kitchen table...

Salad plates found at the ReStore back in February were the
 peppermint inspiration.

$0.50 apiece: The motivation.

Apple green chargers replaced my old evergreen ones.

Stemware borrowed from the Duchess. 

Place cards for no good reason. 
Made from one dollar ornaments. 

Candy cane candlesticks.

(Say that one 3X fast.)

Admit it.
You just tried. 

Salt and pepper shakers from Cracker Barrel.

And a decoupaged salad fork.
It works fine. You just have to wash it by hand.
~That's why I didn't do the whole set.

And there you have it.
 A quick tour of the kitchen table, 
and I did it in less than 100 words. 

It's the first miracle of Christmas! 

I shall celebrate with some well earned visits with my invisible friends in Blog Land.

Sharing with Let's Dish!
and Tablescape Thursday

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Of Gift Swaps and Christmas Scrabble

So I don't even know what's cooking in Blog Land these days. I'm sorry about that. It's just that I have been such a little ADD elf that I barely have time to sit down for a pair of minutes.

Decorating  wasn't supposed to take me as long this year  Due to that economic side trip earlier this fall, I decided to keep my decorating very simple. If it was good enough last year, it's going to have to be good enough this year.


How in the world redoing the same old thing can take so long is anyone's guess,
 but it is.

Today, I leave it all behind and head out for a little shopping adventure. I haven't had a lot of luck with my gift getting in East Podunk this year so I am tagging along with the husband for parts unknown.

I'm on the hunt for several gifts, not the least of which is a gift for an annual gift exchange. That gift swap is the reason for my ramble this morning.

I love gift swaps.

Over the years, I've participated in a lot of them with friends and coworkers. We've exchanged ornaments and mugs, swapped cookies and made recipes-in-a jar. One year, my Bible study group decided to keep it really simple and just exchange the recipe cards instead.

Better for the pocketbook and the waistline.    

For nearly a decade, I've done a long distance gift exchange with a group of friends.  Every year, we try to switch it up and do something a little different as an exchange theme. We're sort of a themey bunch.

We've sent gifts inspired by our states or locations.
Then, by the first letter of our last names.
And then by the first letter of our maiden names. 
We might have done first names too; I can't remember. .

This year, our creative Exchange Queen has come up with a new idea. It has been so fun that I thought it was worth a yakabout.  We're playing Christmas Scrabble. 

Here's how it works. First we created scrabble list of all the words that can be made using the letters of our first and last names. (She furnished this online Scrabble Maker  for those of us too lazy to scrabble it ourselves.) Then, we chose a word from the list as our theme inspiration. Doesn't that sound fun?

Yeah, I thought so too.

So I used that nifty little scrabble maker and scrabbled my name, and do you know what word came up first?

It was Babble.

I also had Babel.
And dibble.
And dabble.
And edible.

So there you have it. Apparently, I'm living up to my name.

I would mention that the word bile was on my list as well, but some things should probably remain unyakked.

Not to worry, though. I have used my scrabble list to come up with an exchange theme which includes no bodily fluids. Since the intended recipient of my scrabbled Christmas has been known to read this blog, I can't share what I came up with just yet. 

However, since the Christmas Scrabble game was such a boost of creative fun,  I thought I'd pass along the idea  to the rest of you.

And that's all I have for now. Somewhere in Georgia, there is a mall with my name written on it. So fellow Georgians, if you happen to see a confused blonde eating her way through the Babble Dabble Mall, please stop  me and say hello.

In the meantime, how about you? Do you enjoy gift exchanges? 
Care to share a creative theme from a gift exchange of your own?

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Mod Podge the Christmas Elf

So now the cat's out of the bag.  I've admitted to the world wide web that I do not like to decorate Christmas trees. In the interest of equal time, and to keep myself from being dubbed Ebenezer McElf,  I think it's only fair to yak about the one kind of tree that I do like to decorate.

That would be The Dollar Tree.

I love that place. Truly, it's the Deco-Addict's paradise. You can drop by The Dollar Tree any hour of any day, and on every occasion, you can find some new piece of schlock upon which to glue leftover pieces of  paper.

Here's my latest. 
It's a recipe holder for me, 
but I guess you could just use it for decoration.

I started with one of these little things.
I think it's a cutting board, although I don't know who would want Betty's
 name all over her cutting board. 

Fortunately, I could just paint over it with Fusion pant. I would have painted it anyway. As I've said before, I think plastic stuff just looks less plasticky when covered with a coat of paint. I painted mine bright red to cover the bright red.

I gave the part I was going to decoupage a quick coat of white to keep the red from showing through, too.

Since I'm working on a candy cane theme for my kitchen this year, I used some striped tissue paper for the background. I was planning to use actual candy canes on here, but when I saw these little ornaments at a dollar a pair, I decided to use them instead.

Now, I don't know whether this part is necessary, but I really did want to be able to prop recipe cards on there so I gave the ornaments a little depth.  I just glued them to these little knobby things that I had in the craft closet. I think they are about a dollar a bag.

And there you have it. 
My Dollar Tree Christmas recipe holder. 

Total cost to me?

Admit it. It's kind of cute in a Mod Podgey sort of way.
 I think I'll celebrate with a cup of peppermint cocoa

Sharing this with the other Cheapskate Crafters
at the Dollar Tree Christmas Party

Monday, November 26, 2012

A Christmas Confession

So today officially begins the Christmas season around the home place. Both pilgrims are safely back to school and work, and Super Dad headed out this morning for a busy week of money making.

That leaves Herself the Elf to begin preparations for the most festive time of the year.
 Ho. Ho. Ho.

I thought I'd start this holiday season with a little yuletide confession for you. 
I hate to decorate the Christmas tree. 

It's true. Not only do I hate it; I've generally flunked it for the past 28 years. I'm not exactly sure how that happened, either. By rights, I should have inherited a Christmas tree gene.  The Duchess puts up fifteen full sized designer trees. The Farm Sister is working on her own slippery slope with six of them.

Me? I struggle to put up one.  

Part of the blame for that lies with the man of the house, who insists on buying a live tree. 

Everyone knows that elves with Decorating Deficiency Disorder ought to stick to artificial Christmas trees. They're just plain easier to work with. With a faux tree, you can bend those boughs any way you have a mind to. They never sag when you stick a heavy ornament on them and create a gaping hole where a branch is supposed to be, either.

For years, I tried to convince him to go with a nice, artificial one, pre-lit if possible.  It would be so much easier, I said.  Just whip out  the box from the attic and set her up.  No trips to the tree lot. No cuttings all over the back deck. No lights to stretch out all over the floor. No belly crawls every few days to check the water level.

But he said...

No evergreen aroma to waft through the home place. 

OK... technically, he said, "They don't smell good", but since I was tossing him under the bus, I thought I ought to at least make him sound a little more eloquent. The man just has a thing for tradition, and in his mind Christmas isn't Christmas unless it smells like Pine Sol.

So every year on the day after Thanksgiving, we head to the tree lot and buy our annual forty dollar Pine Sol. I used to try to make a family outing out of it, but as the years passed, dad and daughters were more than happy to leave Ebenezer Scrooge behind.

This year, dad went all by himself.  

I shall never allow him to do that again.  

I took one walk around that beast and decided that Christie Kringle was way above my pay grade. Not only is she built like the governor of New Jersey, but she appears to be sprouting whiskers. I honestly didn't know where to begin.

But fortunately...

Although I didn't inherit the Christmas tree gene, I am a carrier.  One of the two daughters has been putting up Duchess trees for years and was glad to dig through my meager supply of tree ornaments to give me this:

.I like it. 

I still need to trim some whiskers and fill in some gaps, but she left me with a great start and good suggestions before flying back to Capitol Hill.

I'm off now to by some gap stuffing. I might just update this if I'm pleased with my additions.

So far, that's the only decorating I've done around here. As you can see, Christie Kringle is sitting next to a fall mantel. Such is life on Debbie Drive.

So what about you?
 Do you like to decorate the Christmas tree? 
Do you use a real one or a faux one? 
Inquiring minds want to know...

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

On Giving Thanks

It's Thanksgiving week, folks, and like the rest of the mothers in America, 
I'm as busy as Priscilla Alden getting ready for a three day feast. 

OK, maybe not quite that busy. I don't have to chop the wood and stoke the fires or anything, but I'm still busy getting ready for the days ahead. That's because in the  next day and a half, my two favorite pilgrims will be arriving home for the holiday. 

One on wheels...
One on wings. 

That's why, in the middle of this busy day, I want to stop and thank God for some important people who have gone before me, people without whom this celebration would be impossible. 

Orville and Wilbur Wright
and Henry Ford. 

Yes, I know that Henry didn't invent the automobile. I thank God for that man too, whoever he is. Henry did, however, dream up a way for middle class folks like us to be able to afford one of those wonderful contraptions. Somehow, I can't picture Miss Whimsy riding a mule all the way home from Mercer University.

And I definitely can't picture The Practical One on a racing steed 
all the way from Washington DC.

A stagecoach, maybe...
wearing a jaunty little hat. 

In truth, without the gifts of imagination, intellect, and courage that God gave those two brothers,  I might not be spending Thanksgiving with my DC daughter.

That's why I'm pausing today to thank God for the gifts that He has given to others. You see, it seems to me that we're cultivating a spirit of ingratitude in our world today, a spirit that doesn't appreciate the talents of others, a spirit of gift envy that shows contempt for the Giver.

So today I strike a blow against that spirit, and I thank Him for the gifts He showers on others, the kind of gifts that gave us the airplane and the automobile...

The vacuum cleaner and the washing machine...
the blow dryer and the curling iron...
radiation and chemotherapy...
 the computer... 

Hoping to have one more post before the big day arrives, but in case I don't, I want you to know how thankful I am for the folks who live inside my computer as well. You inspire, encourage, convict, and entertain me more than you know. I thank God for the gifts He has given to all of you.

A special shout out to Mary at Home Is Where The Boat Is, one of the most gifted tablescapers in Blog Land. She inspired me to drag out some metallic craft paint and gild those apples on my table. I love the effect. (Better remember to warn the family, or I'll be thanking God for dentists next...)

Happy Thanksgiving! 

What gifts of others are you thankful for today?

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Crafting in the Shadow

I got a little treat a few weeks ago. 
I got the chance to be a student in my own Sunday School class.  

I rarely get that chance. I generally teach the class unless I'm going out of town. This time, I had asked for a little break.

The lesson was about using our gifts and talents for the Kingdom of God. At the end of the lesson, the teacher asked the class  to share what they believed to be their own talents.

From my quiet chair in the corner, I studied the women in that room. What I saw made me sad. They shifted in their seats. They rearranged their Bibles. They shrugged and sighed and chewed on their lips. In the entire class, only two women actually shared something that they thought they could bring to God's party.

There's no good reason for that, either. Sitting around that room was a group of gifted women. They can bake and sew and decorate. They can sing and craft and organize. They have many talents. They just have one little problem. None of these women sees herself as one who shines. 

You see, they sing in the choir, but never sing the solo. They serve on committees but never serve as the chair. When a job needs to be done, they're the hands and feet behind the scenes. You rarely if ever see their face out in front or their name in the bulletin. They are the shadow people.

Can anyone relate?

I chewed on that scene all week long. I even considered doing a lesson to address it but went ahead with plans to begin a study on the Ark of the Covenant. We began with the building of the Tabernacle in Exodus.  It wasn't long before I stumbled on this:

 Then Moses said to the Israelites, 
"See, the LORD has chosen Bezalel son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, and he has filled him with the Spirit of God, with skill, ability and knowledge in all kinds of crafts-- 
~ Exodus 35:30

OK...Am I the only one out there who has never noticed the name Bezalel before? 

If you've read the Book at all, you know that it took an entire nation to build and furnish that Tabernacle. What you might not realize (because I didn't) is that God only names two of them. One was Bezalel,  

And name him, he did. The actual rendering of that verse doesn't say that God chose Bezalel. It says that God called him by name.  

Now, I don't know about you, but whenever I read that God calls someone by name, I'm always curious to know exactly what that name means. I looked it up, and do you know what it means? 

In the shadow of God.  

Bezalel wasn't a spotlight kind of guy. He wasn't a speaker or a warrior. He wasn't a prophet or a judge. He was never going to wear the priestly garments and be covered in gold and precious stones. He wasn't going to blow the trumpet or carry the Ark of the Covenant. 

No, Bezalel wasn't a spotlight kind of guy. He was just a man with a craft and a heart for his God.   A few verses later we find out he had a heart to teach others the craft as well.  If he were alive today, I bet he'd be a blogger. 

But then again, maybe he wouldn't. Maybe he would be perfectly content to do the job that God had gifted him to do, knowing that if God had called him to do it and equipped him to do it, it must be an important job to God.

By the way, it was. 

You just don't find out which job had Bezalel written on it unless you keep reading that wonderful Book. A few chapters later, Exodus 37 begins with these words:

So Bezalel made the ark...

That's right folks. Bezalel made the Ark of the Covenant, the treasure of Israel.  
Just think about it...
In the entire history of God's people, only two hands ever touched the Ark of the Covenant and lived to tell the tale. Both of those hands belonged to an obscure crafter named Bezalel, a man in a shadow of God.

So here's to you, shadow people.
 If you only hear one thing this morning, hear this:

The God who created you has gifted you with specific skills for a specific purpose, and that specific purpose has your name written all over it.  You may be crafting in the shadows, but from where God sits, you shine.

Comments off for Sunday


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