Friday, February 3, 2017

If we were having coffee ... (First coffee date of the year)

This type of blog post is for when I have a lot of little things I want to share, or when I feel the need to catch up. 

 

 So, grab your coffee/beverage of your choice. I have a homemade hot chocolate. Yum! One of these days I'll actually take a photo of myself holding a cup of coffee for these posts. ... One day. ... But today is not that day.  

If we were having coffee ...  I'd say:  Oh my goodness, ya'all! I blinked and January disappeared. At the beginning of the month, I had *grand plans* and I shouldn't have because the universe caught wind of it, laughed mightily and said "Not today, lil missy. You got another think coming."

A lot has happened this month.  Not all necessarily for me.  If it all had, I think I would have crawled into bed and never come out.

The biggest thing came a few Fridays ago.  There was some news and *bam* my work life is changed significantly, and someone I've worked closely with for the last eight years is not there. It took me at least a week to wrap my head around the announcement and my work changes. I do believe I've finally settled into the new routine. Thankfully, I've been here before, and know what must be done to keep the trains on time and in the right directions.

The other *big* news is that our sweet Grandma P passed away Saturday, Jan. 21.


We got Grandma P the first year we had chickens. She was part of a group of older girls we purchased after a fox attacked and killed most of our hens from our very first group.

Okay, now I re-read that blog entry and am feeling all the feels.  I still feel awful about that rotten fox coming onto my turf.


Grandma P, back in March 2016, telling us a short story.

My DH and I figured she was at least three years old when we took her home.  I wasn't sure what to think of her, when we first got her.  Her booty was bare because she lived with a feather eater and she had a couple tail feathers sticking up.  I used to joke about her wearing feather chaps.

She didn't care that she could feel a breeze.  She walked the yard with an air of dignity most can't match.  She would sleep in one of the nesting boxes when everyone was in the smaller coop. This was before we built the Chicken Shack of Love,  We figured it was partly because she couldn't get all the way up to the roost. Or, she wanted to ensure her nether regions were well-protected.  Or, she just liked keeping her body heat close to her.

When everyone was moved to the bigger coop, she would go to bed early, to ensure she got a coveted spot on the top roost.

She stopped laying eggs a few years ago. Every once in a while she felt the urge to go sit in a nesting box, and she would sit there for a few hours and leave doing an egg song.  The nesting box was empty, unless a hen went in there earlier and laid an egg. Grandma P didn't care if it was her egg or not. She'd sing just the same.  Old instincts die hard, I guess.

R.I.P. Grandma P, you are missed.

All the other chickens and roos have been doing fine. No signs of spring fever yet.  They are acting a bit prima-donna-ish right now.  We decided to do fermented feed.  The flock likes it, a lot.  However, in the morning, they don't like to get out of bed to eat, so the feed freezes in the bowl frequently, and the birds get pouty when this happens.

Soon we will start thinking about hatching baby chicks out.

If we were having coffee ... I'd also say that with all this going on, plus weird weather patterns, I got a lot of crafting done.  At least it feels like it to me.

Back, during Christmas holiday, I decided it was time to make myself a Deadfish Hat.

 

This hat was knit up in just a few days.  I used no modifications, despite being cautioned to ignore the original pattern.  I was able to wrap my mind around the instructions and I think it turned out pretty good.


I used Caron's Simply Soft yarn that was leftover from a summer project.  I would definitely make this pattern again, but with a different yarn.  As much as I love the Caron's Simply Soft yarn, I fear it might be too soft for this pattern.

My first finished project of the year was a Brambles beret. I am really happy with how it turned out.

Brambles Beret
Yarn: Cascade 220
Color # 8885; Lot #2J9995
Needles: US 4 and US 6
Started: Jan. 1, 2017
Finished: Jan. 7, 2017
No modifications.

 

I broke down and bought a foam mannequin head. It's so awkward trying to take a picture of your own head, while trying to show off head knitwear. 

 

I think she looks pretty cunning. And a bit blown out.  The sun must have been shining on her face.


One of my next projects was a dishcloth.  I signed up to receive Knit Picks blog posts via email since they started posting their 52 weeks of dishcloth KAL for 2017.

I'm working them in the order they are posted.  Except for the Aquarious one.  I decided I had no interest in that one.

The first one I did was the Snowflake dishcloth. I won't be making this one again.

Snowflake dishcloth
Yarn: Sugar and Cream
Color "Summer Prints"
Needles: US #5, 16-inch and DPNs
Started: Jan. 14, 2017
Finished: Jan. 21, 2017
No modifications.


Why won't I be making this one again?  Look at all those ends!


I had to weave in 34 ends.  I think that's crazy to have that many ends on a dishcloth.


So, uh, yeah ... never again.

The next dishcloth I make was the Knotted Cables dishcloth

Yarn: Hobby Lobby cotton yarn
Color 42/Lime
Needles: US #7
Started: Jan. 22, 2017
Finished: Jan. 24
No modifications.



I like how this one turned out. This is almost my first time working a more complicated cable.



Early in the month, when I needed something to occupy my hands while I was a passenger, I made a "Grandma's Favorite Dishcloth"

Yarn: Sugar and Cream
Color "Pastel Delight
Needles: US #5
Started: Jan. 14, 2017
Finished: Jan. 14, 2017
No modifications.

 

I kind of messed it up at the start, but the rest went all right.

Currently, all that is on the needles is a vanilla sock I'm making with Knit Picks Felicci yarn.


Vanilla socks
Yarn: Knit Picks Felici "Sunset"
Color: Lot #66362
Needles: US #1, 2.25 mm, 16-inch circs
Started: Jan. 19, 2017

 

I'm a few inches past the afterthought heel.  I think I'd like to try something different with the heel.  I need to do some research. I love these colors, though. 

 If we were having coffee ... I'd tell you about my cross stitching endeavors. Yes, I have been steadily working on cross stitch.  First, I got some kits from Hobby Lobby.  I don't recommend doing so. I was *not* happy with them.  I showed one of my projects in a previous post. I'm going to show it again.

A Mr. Turkey, for Thanksgiving. This was my first dive back into cross stitching. The piece of fabric was so small that it hurt my hands trying to hold onto it.  The aida fabric was also really stiff, which made it hard to push the needle through. 


He is a cute little bugger though. I was so glad to get it done. 

The next project was another kit from Hobby Lobby. This time I did a witch's hat, for Halloween.

 

This project went smoother because I had a 3-inch hoop, and there wasn't a whole lot of color changes, and whatnot.  This one took me a couple evenings, maybe.

The third cross stitch project was a cardinal. I love how this one turned out.


I am a bit miffed at the instructions.  Instructions stated to start the project X amount from the bottom of the cloth.  I did that, and it doesn't look like the kit photo.


The project shown in the kit photo is much higher than what it should be, according to instructions.  So I'm not sure what I'm going to do with this one.  Frame it, most likely.

All those little kits gave me practice for the mother of all cross stitch projects.  The "Happily Ever After ..." Stitch-along from The Frosted Pumpkin Stitchery

 

I've been progressing on this project ... slowly.  I am enjoying it tremendously. The cloth is a dream to work with.  I don't feel like I'm fighting it at all. 

The February clue was released a couple days ago.  So far I'm still working with the pattern release from January. That part included the border, title, and the pattern for January. So far, I finished the title border, and started working on the border for January.  Like I said, slow and steady.

The sun decided to hide behind a cloud when I took this photo.  The photo doesn't do the project justice


 If we were having coffee ... I'd let you know that I dug out a needle punch kit out of stash.  I bought this four years ago.  Why?  Cause I thought it would be something fun.  It is. Sort of.  I go through the floss really quick, and need to refill quicker than I thought I would. Which wouldn't be so bad, except I don't have the hang of threading the needle puncher really quick.  Any quesses as to why I chose this one?


This project will take me a while to complete. 

 If we were having coffee ... I'd let you know some spinning has been done.  This is corriedale fiber.  I think it's superwash, but I wouldn't bet on it.  It's the fiber I got back when I first received my spinning wheel.  This month marks the eight year anniversary since I got my beloved Kromski Minstrel. My wheel was given to me for Valentine's Day.


I'm definitely out of practice.  The muscle memory is slowly returning.  Last summer I purchased a craftsy spinning class.  I think it was a Jacey Boggs one. I haven't gone through the lessons yet. The plan had been to work through them this winter.  However, winter is going at breakneck speed. 

A downside to spinning again is wanting to dye fiber.  Oh, I want to play around with the dyepots so badly, so I can spin up pretty, pretty colorways. I'm being good though.  I have enough on my plate as it is.

If we were having coffee ... I'd tell you I did a little bit of sewing, and I got my boxy bags!

I have wanted to make boxy bags since I first saw one online.

 

I tried looking up tutorials online, but couldn't find one that really worked for me.  So it's been a bit of trial and error. 

 

But finally -- success!

I immediately tried make a larger one.  It didn't turn out quite like I thought it would.  It's all right, it fits the one project perfectly, I think.


Isn't the fabric adorable?


I do have a project in there, ready to go.  Sort of.


This yarn was from a Valentine's Day yarn club, about four years ago.  As soon as I saw it, I knew which pattern would go with it. The "True Love" sock pattern by Chrissy Gardiner.


Look at that pretty cabling.


This will definitely be a work-only-at-home-project.

I have more fabric on hand to make a project bag. I decided I needed a Valentine's Day themed project bag.  Cause, why not?


I picked this fabric up at Hobby Lobby.  This time, I'm going to try making a wedge (?) bag.  Zippered on top, boxed corners on the bottom.  That should work, right?  I'm totally winging it this time around.

 

 If we were having coffee ...  I'd also tell you back in September, or maybe October, I started a quilt top. I *thought* I'd blast right through it.  Oh, then the universe laughed at me and kept me humble.  I got the quilt sandwich done during December. I'm currently working on the quilting bit of it.


I don't remember the exact quilt dimensions. I think it might be five feet by five feet, or so.  It's big enough that my son and I can snuggle together under it. My son has decided he wants this quilt, rather than wait for me make another one just for him. Fine by me!

As with most things, I'm teaching myself how to quilt. One day I decided to watch a couple youtube videos because I can't quite get the hang of the rocking motion when hand quilting. I also can't stand to hand quilt while using a hoop. 

Well, after watching those videos, I realized I've been doing it wrong. 

Gah!

This quilt is almost done.  No way would I rip all the quilting out and start over.  However, I will make a quilted table topper, and practice the hand rocking motion on it.

If we were having coffee ...  I'd say "Let's talk books!" Cause I haven't been reading a lot.  I did listen to a couple audiobooks and I enjoyed those.  The first one was "A Corner of White" What a sweet book.  At first I had no idea what was going on.  Then I realized there were two worlds. There are a few fun and silly things, but at the heart of it is a really nice story about friendship. As one reviewer said, I did NOT see the ending coming. I'm eager to listen to the second book.  The audiobook was a great production too.  The voice actors did a fantastic job.

The other audiobook I *sort of* listened to was "The Feed." I didn't hear the first few chapters of the book, but I was able to catch on fairly quickly. This book made me a bit sad, at the end.  It's a story about a boy, who thinks he's not very smart.  Then, he meets a girl who is so opposite of him that it scares him a bit, and causes him to question himself and what he knows in this world.  Or, if you want to quote wikipedia:

"The is a young adult dystopian novel of the cyberpunk subgenre written by M. T. Anderson. The novel focuses on issues such as corporate power, consumerism, information technology, data mining, and environmental decay, with a sometimes sardonic, sometimes somber tone. From the first-person perspective of a teenager, the novel presents a near-futuristic American culture completely dominated by advertising and corporate exploitation, corresponding to the enormous popularity of internetworking brain implants"

Why yes, I did lift that from the wikipedia entry.  But since I linked to it at the beginning of the paragraph, I think this is okay. The audiobook production on this novel was so fabulous, as well. The audiobook companies are getting better and better with their productions.  No longer is a voice actor just reading.  The stories are really engaging.  It makes me think of the old time radio programs.  Only better!

This novel is also part love story.  By the end, if your eyes aren't tearing up, then I don't know what to tell you. 

And then ... we come to my book from the Well-Read Mom's book club. "All The Light We Cannot See," was the October book selection, if I recall correctly.  I borrowed this book from one of my friends.


I will have to re-listen to the audios for this book, and reread the essay about it.  This book was beautifully written.  Oh my word!  The author did such a good job setting up the character backgrounds, where they were currently at, and made you wonder what the future held for them. I could see the towns in my mind's eye.  I felt how desolate Werner was in his school.  I felt the panic of Marie-Laurie when the bombs hit Saint-Malo.

Then, the author broke my heart.  The story didn't go the way I thought - no, hoped - it would go.

Despair!  I was reading the story, and something came so abruptly and unexpected that I think I went slack jaw for a moment, trying to process what I just read.

No, my heart was broken, with 30 pages to go. I appreciate that everything wasn't wrapped up with a neat little bow.  Everyone and everything was connected together and I felt a little bit of closure. 

When I was done I thought "This, THIS is why I hate reading books written in this era."  I feel so ... I can't even adequately put in to words how I feel when I think about this time in human history.

The author created a beautiful story, but I hate the era. I am thankful I didn't have to live through it.  I don't know if I could have survived.

If we were having coffee ... I'd say thank you, for reading this all the way through in one sitting.  Or even if you had to break it up into a few reading sessions.  I had been sitting on some of this stuff for so long, and I wanted to write about it all.  I didn't make any real goals or resolutions for 2017. I had thought I'd write more frequently, in bite-sized entries, and keep a more accurate record of my projects on the blog. I guess I've got quite the start now.

Thanks for having coffee with me! I hope your drink didn't get too cold.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Re-entry is hard, guy

Today was my first day back at work.  All things considered, it was all right. I had less than 100 emails and only two voicemails.  I spent the day getting back on track, and taking care of paperwork.

The only "what the" moment I had was during morning break.  I sat in the wrong spot at the table and that caused a ripple in the atmosphere, I guess.  When I went to change spots, I managed to spill my cup of tea. After that I decided maybe I should stay in my office for the rest of the day.

I did get some work done on my brambles beret hat. I've got the 12 rows of 1 x 1 rib done.  Now I can go up to the next needle size.


Over my lunch hour I made a mad dash up to JoAnn's Fabric.  You see, I had been on the hunt for a three inch embroidery hoop.  I tried the wal*marts, Hobby Lobby and Michael's. This past weekend I called the  Hobby Lobby store to ask if they were in stock.  The gal went and looked, said "yes, we have about 16," and I thought "great!"  I arrived at the store and they didn't have them in stock.  Turns out she looked, but didn't really look.  She assumed.  Grrrr.

Today I went on JoAnn's website and it tells you if items are in stock at your local store.  I went to the store.  It was my first time there. Honestly, I'm not seeing why people are crazy for this store.

Anywho, I found where they *should* be, and there was none on the shelf. Turns out, they hadn't been unpacked and shelved yet.  It was like the universe was conspiring against me to get this size hoop.  There was only three employees working at the store, when I was being assisted there was suddenly a line of people wanting to pay for their purchases and you could tell they weren't feeling very patient.  Once I got my item, and a metal Wilton donut pan, I was having trouble finding the right 50 percent off coupon on the smart phone app.  But darn it! it was *my* turn to be assisted. 

I thanked the gal and let her know I appreciated her helping me.  I imagine she was feeling a bit stressed since they were short staffed.

Too bad I didn't get the hoop sooner.  It would have made working on my cross stitch project so much easier.


Over the summer I picked up a few small cross stitch projects from Hobby Lobby.  I thought they would fit in the 4 inch hoop I had.  Nope.  Last week I made the turkey cross stitch project in the above photo. It really wasn't an enjoyable project, without a hoop.  I persevered and got it done ... Sunday night I think.

Now I can work on the next project. A little witch hat for next Halloween.  Fingers crossed this one is more enjoyable.  When I was tossing the yarn and fabric stash last week, I discovered this kit, and another one of a cardinal. I forgot I had them.  I think maybe no more craft shopping for a while.





Monday, January 2, 2017

First cast on of the year

Last night I decided on some knitting projects I wanted to work on this new year. I rediscovered a skein of Cascade 220 I purchased last summer, and decided I wanted to make a second Brambles Beret.  My first Brambles accidentally went through the washer and dryer around a year ago.  There was much sadness when I realized what happened.  It had been made with a gorgeous blue Malabrigo yarn I received in a swap, oh about 7 years ago.

 

So I dragged out my ball winder, and searched for my umbrella swift.  Then I couldn't recall where I had set up the swift and ball winder the last time I used them.  I ended up using a kitchen chair to place my winder, and a side table for the swift.  Sometimes I get frustrated that I don't have a place for a permanent set up for this stuff, but none of the furniture in my craft room is thin enough for the clamps on these two tools.


 It's been a while since I worked cables. I hope it's like riding a bicycle.


 

I do love the deep purple of this yarn.  When I first the skein I knew I had to get it, and make a cabled hat out of it.  My first hat idea had been the 3 a.m. hat.  I've made a few of those and given them away as gifts, but I really miss having the Brambles beret.

So ...

Brambles Beret
Yarn: Cascade 220
Color # 8885; Lot #2J9995
 Needles: US 4 and US 6

In other news, I'm enjoying my last day of vacation.  I took the last week of December off, to spend the holidays with family.  It's been a busy time.  We had a lovely Christmas.  The weather was fairly decent. Our area hasn't received a lot of snow this winter.  There was a December winter storm that didn't amount to a lot of anything, but did leave a lot of ice on the roads, parking lots and driveways. 

My husband and I decided to switch over some of our appliances over to propane, so installing a new water heater and new dryer were two of our big projects this past week since we both had time off from work.  Even though he did the majority of things and I was a helper monkey, it was still tiring work.

I think it was Christmas eve that the weather was pretty decent out, temps wise.  The coop thawed out and I decided to take advantage of the weather and do coop chores while everything was thawed out. A cleaning was desperately needed and I got to spend some time with my ladies. 


 Here's a short video of one of the girls telling everyone she's gonna lay an egg soon.  She kept talking off and on for quite a while.


I pulled out my Dewalt radio, and turned on the classical music station, which I think the ladies appreciate hearing.  Turns out there was a broadcast of Epiphany Lessons and Carols playing.  How lovely.  I've not heard one before.  Hearing it helped my Christmas spirit grow just a little bit more.

The music greatly helped time go by and I think it took me less than 45 minutes to muck out the whole coop.

I clean out the coop in sections, and usually start with under the roosts.  The chickens weren't sure what to make of it, at first. I don't usually clean the coop with them still in there, but they don't like being out in the snow.  I know, they are prissy that way.  Then, when I dumped the pine shavings for them, they thought "oh boy!" 


 You will also see our two new Roos.  They have a lot of white on their feathers.  One has a stripe on his wings. They still do not have permanent names.

Last night was supposed to be the start of a winter storm. It snowed a *little* bit, but not enough to gripe about.  I thought the snow would start midday today.  Nope, not yet.

 

Tomorrow I head back to work, and I'm sad to see the break end.  It went far too quickly. It usually does.


 

Friday, December 16, 2016

If we were having coffee ... last coffee date of the year

This type of blog post is for when I have a lot of little things I want to share, or when I feel the need to catch up. 


So, grab your coffee/beverage of your choice. I have a cuppa of Constant Comment tea. Yum! One of these days I'll actually take a photo of myself holding a cup of coffee for these posts. ... One day. ... 


And since it's been a while,  I brought some scones. I made these yesterday, before going over to my MIL's for a visit with family.

 If we were having coffee ... I'd tell you how fast this year has gone. Seriously. I feel I was so much more busy this year that I simply didn't have the luxury of writing everything down. I know my writing was seriously lagging the last several months.  I'm mildly kicking myself now about it.  I love being able to scroll back and see what was going on.  I feel like I've been on the computer so much for work, I don't fee like being on it much once I get home, and writing down the going-ons in my life. Lately I have also had a serious dislike on for social media.  I think a lot of people have been feeling this way.

Anywho ... Life has been busy.   But I already said that. The boats have been winterized and put away. The water finally froze over.  I saw one ice fishing shack on the lake. I didn't think the ice was thick enough. But to each their own, right?   The weather finally switched from mild temps to wind blowing and sucking all the heat away from you.  We are to have snow this weekend, and cold temps.  Next week the temps are supposed to go back up into the 20s F.


 If we were having coffee ... I'd tell you Thanksgiving was a good week for us. We did butcher one of the turkeys for our dinner.  We butchered the smaller of the two males and he dressed out at 46 pounds.  Not quite as big as last year's bird, but pretty close.

 

We also butchered the female turkey, and gifted her to a couple we know. The couple was excited to have a farm fresh turkey for their thanksgiving meal. 

This week family from out of town came for a visit, and we celebrated Thanksgiving, Christmas, and a few birthdays, all in one meal. So we butchered the final turkey and he dressed out at 51 pounds.  I struggled to move him around, but I did get him in the oven all on my own.  He was slow cooked for 24 hours and came out perfect! 

I'm now in the home stretch for Christmas.  Almost everything is ready to go.  My son begged me to put the tree up on Black Friday. 



 If we were having coffee ... I'd tell you I *had* been crafting and stitching to my little hearts content the last couple months.  However, the things I made I've either given away as gifts, or the Finished Objects have been scattered around the house and/or put away.  So. .... nothing to show.  Sorry.

Currently I have no projects going.  I'm taking a bit of a break. My brain and hands are sort of at a loss right now.  I'm so used to doing *something* when I sit on the couch to watch tv in the evenings.  I am starting some sort of mental list of projects I want to work on in the coming year.

I did pull my wheel out this month (you can see my wheel in the above photo).  It was nice to spin a bit.  I forgot how relaxed I get when I'm spinning.  I found it's easier to treadle my wheel if I have it on some sort of rug.  We have carpet and my wheel sits just a bit crooked. 

 If we were having coffee ... I *had* been reading a bit. I was trying my hardest to follow the "Well-Read Mom" this year.  I sort of fell off the wagon back in October. ... I'm reading "All the Light We Cannot See," just a bit at a time. The story is good.  The writing feels tight. Its just that I haven't been able to be still and pull out the book.  It seems something is always pulling my attention away when I do try to settle in for a read. 

I just completed "A Corner of White" audiobook.  I wasn't sure what to make of the book, at first.  Then the storyline got going, and it got quite interesting.  The writing is clever, and it's a sweet story overall.  I'll most likely listen to the second book, too.  The voice actors do a wonderful job and made me believe they really were the characters whose words they were bringing life to. Boy, did that last line make sense?  I hope so.


 If we were having coffee ... I'd tell you about the chickens.  The ladies are doing well.  Those baby Brahma's I wrote about, earlier this summer ... Well, turns out we didn't get what we ordered.  We ordered 15 hens and 2 roos.  We received straight run.  Even worse (only because this is really what we didn't want) they were bantams.  So we found them new homes.

Meanwhile, we decided our Roo wasn't doing as good of a job that he could be doing.  Trey is no longer with us.  However, we were lucky enough to bring home two of his sons.  They are *so* pretty too. They take their job extremely seriously and have been a wonderful addition to the flock.

When we brought them home and introduced them to the group, the roos were accepted immediately, without questions.  It was an amazing thing to see. Maybe they had their daddy's smell. In any case, we are happy to have them.  They don't have official names yet.  I was referring to them and blackbeard and soldier boy, but I don't know if those names will stick.

We'll have a couple months before we pull out the incubators and start hatching some babies out.  The circle will continue :-)



Thursday, December 8, 2016

Advent 2016

 

Today during our office meeting, my coworker, boss and I were remarking about how this year's Advent doesn't seem very hope-filled, or joy-filled. After the meeting, Mass was held in our office chapel, followed by a potluck, and craft sale.  The entire work building was filled with this wonderful holiday spirit.  People were kind to each other, and were happy.  This feeling actually started earlier in the day when one of the gals decorated the kitchen, baked a coffee cake, and set the table with nice snacks for break time.

I've tried to embrace the spirit and reason for this season, and I could be doing more to nurture it along.  However, just when I think I've got it, I see something on the Internet, someone says something, or something happens. Then I feel sad, or lose faith in humanity.  Because of this, I haven't been spending much time online, if I can help it.

 I've been trying to so hard to think of others, and have kind thoughts and considerations. Others are not having the same charitable spirit, and their actions give the perception that Christmas is just one more thing have to get through or endure.

Not only are people overlooking THE reason for the season, whether they realize it or not, they are slowly killing the holiday cheer for the people who are trying so hard to hold on to it. When I speak with others and they start bah humbugging the holiday or start complaining about doing this, or doing that, I start to feel small about all the plans and things I want/ed to do, to celebrate. Perhaps I *shouldn't* do what I want, because it might be seen as overkill, when the least amount of effort could suffice. I don't know, maybe I *shouldn't* be bothering?  But then, what kind of Christmas will my son have?  So I soldier on.

This year I participated in an ornament swap and I poured so much of myself into it, knowing the recipient would appreciate each thing I made especially for her, and each thing I purchased with her in mind. Being in the ornament swap gave me the outlet for crafting and gift-giving I seemed to desperately need, especially after the tumultuous presidential election this year.

What am I doing to ensure I get into the Christmas spirit and stay there?  Well, the Christmas music will be playing, the Christmas lights will be on, and I will probably be found in the kitchen, baking up a storm, when I'm not thinking of things to make for next year's craft sale.