Saturday, December 26, 2009

Joy to You

Originally uploaded by Grey Cottage Studio

I grumbled about this holiday season, but indeed, joy prevailed. I've reflected and ruminated to myself, but thought I'd share some of the highlights, so I don't forget next year, when the anxiety begins anew.
My favorite things -

- taking Max & Alex to the Polka-Dot Penguin Pottery to paint travel tea mugs for their dad. We made a few ornaments too.
- Seeing Mark's love for his dear grandparents. Very tired from working the way only crazy ad guys work, he and two of the kids drove five hours round trip on Christmas Eve to take Grandma & Grandpa to an all-you-can-eat Chinese buffet lunch. (Which my boys proclaimed "truly awesome")
- the Christmas cards. Reading them, sending them, hanging them up.
- scrambling to make peppermint bark for favorite teachers the morning of the last day of school (I couldn't quelch that lovely impulse from the kids).
- seeing the elation on Christmas morning as everyone beheld the glory of a gift-laden tree
- actually chilling on Christmas day.  For the first time (I think ever), we didn't travel, didn't host.  I would be lonely if that were the norm, but it was a rather lovely exception.
- snuggling with my husband after three tired and satiated boys dropped into their beds. 
- Oh, one of the best - tucking Max & Alex into their box for four nights in a row.  We got a new TV this year for the big family gift, and Max & Alex decided that the box made the most perfect bed.  They piled in pillows, blankets and a litte reading light and slept in there for four nights.   

Wow.  It wasn't a freight train after all.  Hope yours was full of fuzzy moments too.

(Oh I would have more photos to post, but I can't find the dang cord that goes from the camera to the computer.  See, it wasn't all silver & gold.)

Monday, December 14, 2009

Finding a Purpose

Life is

what you make of it.

Always has been.

Always will be.

A simple quote, illustrated. (Grandma Moses)

Friday, December 11, 2009

Is that a Light at the End of the Tunnel or a Freight Train?

I'm sorry, but sometimes that's how I feel about Christmas.  It used to be my favorite time of year, but the older I get, the more I would like Christmas to be less.  In my household, I feel responsible for everyone's Christmas experience, and that's a lot to carry around all month.   I want Christmas to look and feel and smell as lovely and magical for them as it does in my memories.  Yet, I hate having to shop, shop, shop and decorating with a two-year-old has its limits (yes, that was the sound of crashing ornaments).  Witness the busted Christmas trumpet.

I think I need to throw up a few more strings of twinkle lights and gather the little souls around the fire to get back in the spirit.  Either that or call my mom and thank her for the Christmas miracles she pulled off so many years ago.


Saturday, December 5, 2009

Post from my Past

Six years ago, I started a blog called, "Chick with Sticks."  I wrote one entry.  I feel so different today than the person who wrote the entry.  I had really forgotten the whole sitting in a chair crying part.  Isn't that interesting?  By the way, I don't knit much anymore.

Here's my post from November 2003:

Well, another obsessive blogger-reader has taken the plunge and started a blog. This blog will be my knitting blog (mostly) though I'm sure other bits of my life and crafty endeavors will seep through.

My current obsession is knitting -- a bit unusual that it's still my obsession after a year. Usually, I pick one crafty endeavor, dive in head first and burn myself out pretty soon thereafter. I think knitting has stuck because I love fibers and fiber arts, the possibilities are endless, and there is a true community out there, readily accessible, or easily held-at-bay. Knitting also fits my lifestyle right now. I really like to sew, but it's rather anti-social to hide out in a little closet-like room in our apartment every night.

My grandmother taught me to knit, but that didn't really stick. When I was 14, I spent the summer with a family in Germany. The oldest daughter, Veronika, taught me to knit. I returned to high school in the States, and needless to say, there were not a lot of knitters, cool patterns or great yarns out there. Pretty soon thereafter I lost my needles.

One year ago, my father died suddenly. I had a very difficult time coping with any kind of down time. As the mother of 2 two-year-olds, there is not a lot of silence, but I did have a half-hour in the dark as they drifted off to sleep each night. Before my dad died, I used to use the time to unwind and transition from the crazy day. After he died, I found myself silently weeping in the rocking chair in the dark every night. I needed something to do.

A friend in my mother's group brought her knitting one day and inspired me. I have always loved to make things (cooking was my last obsession, but it's almost always something crafty/creative). I went to my lys (happens to be "The Yarn Company", home of the Yarn Girls) and bought some Tahki baby, some needles and a got scarf pattern. My fingers sort of remembered how to knit, but they had forgotten how to purl. So, I consulted a recent issue of Martha Stewart, which had featured knitting, and re-learned how to cast-on and how to purl (my fingers forgot that too).

It was not until I joined a stich-n-bitch eight months later that I realized that I knit continentally. I had no idea that there was a difference. I feel an odd physical connection with my 14 year-old self, who knit constantly for one summer, not to begin again for almost 20 years. Somehow my body remembered, even though my mind didn't.

I named my blog "grin-grumble" because that's how Veronika (my German friend who taught me to knit) signed her letters, followed by a a happy face and a sad face. I always thought that it was a humorous translation of something German that didn't quite fit the American venacular.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Inside the Elves Workshop: a patchwork bag, a purple flower, a pair of pears

I love receiving homemade gifts, but I don't give as many as I used to, or really, as many as I'd like to. I'm too fragile to give to see my handmade gifts received in a cursory way by folks who just don't quite realize the time and love of a homemade gift, or may not want it.  Some people would really rather have a gift card or something lovely and delightful from the mall.  Sigh.

Molly's making a beautiful book, chronicling the holiday with daily entries and her gorgeous pictures.  I love seeing her process as well as the product, so I thought I'd put up a few shots of some things in progress over here.

First, a patchwork bag for a smart friend on her way back to school. This:

is supposed to become this:

from this book

And I made these beaded flowers:

which may become necklaces, or pins or something (ideas?) but I'm not sure that I like them.

I have few other works which are not camera-ready or cannot be shown yet.  But here's one of my paintings in progress.  Slow going and not that impressive, but I'm learning a lot from my new teacher and am loving the process, even if the product is not quite what I'm going for.

What are your favorite things to give?