February Reflections

Once again the end of the month is still a few days away, but there will probably be other posts between now and then. So I thought this might be a good time for my end-of-month post.

February is when winter starts getting old. However, the month has its highlights. One is my daughter-in-law’s birthday. Another is Valentine’s Day, which we celebrate as a family. Another is that the daylight that has been steadily increasing since the winter equinox finally becomes enough to be noticeable.

This year we had the added benefit of the Olympics in February. I rarely watch sports on TV except when the Olympics are on. We watched mostly figure skating, but caught some skiing, bobsledding, and snowboarding as well. One night when we were looking for something from the Olympics to watch while eating take-out, all we could find was a curling match between the US and China on the NBC app. There’s a reason curling is only shown in clips in prime time! It’s not the most exciting sport to watch, though I am sure a lot of strategy is involved for the players.

My favorite Olympic moments: Nathan Chen’s gold medal free skate program, Lindsey Jacobellis and Nick Baumgartner’s win in the mixed snowboard cross (with the two of them being among the oldest Olympic competitors), and Shawn White’s last run and then closing interview with Mike Tirico.

Home and family

A couple of organizing projects had been tugging at me since before Christmas without the chance to do anything about them. I finally got to them this month. It would be too long and boring, probably, to tell all about them. But one involved getting things I only use once or twice a year, like seasonal cookie cutters and pumpkin-carving tools, out of a kitchen drawer and into the pantry. I didn’t take “before” pictures, but here are the bins in the pantry afterward:

And here’s the drawer, the deepest one on the kitchen. Imagine it with most of the stuff in those bins in here in plastic bags. It seemed whatever I wanted in here was always at the bottom of the drawer. I’m so much more pleased with it now.

I used to post Timothyisms, funny little things my grandson would say. He still says cute things, but I don’t think to write them down. He likes jokes now, so I collect them and share them with him. My favorite recent one: Why don’t anteaters get sick? Because they’re full of anty-bodies. ๐Ÿ™‚

Jason just took this picture of Timothy and me last week. He’s only 8 (next month), but is almost as tall as I am!

And, yes, he’s in the making-funny-faces-for-the-camera stage of life. ๐Ÿ™‚

Creating

February was a banner month for card-making, between Valentine’s Day and a couple of birthdays.

Going in chronological order, this was a card for a friend’s birthday. Only . . . I had the date wrong. I had it on my calendar and gathered a few things together and made her a card. Then the night before, I thought maybe I should check the church directory and make sure of her birth date. And I discovered it was in July, not February! I decided to go ahead and give everything to her since she’d probably get a kick out of it. We could almost call it her half-birthday. ๐Ÿ™‚ Plus, I didn’t want to have to keep up with the things until summer. As it turned out, when I dropped the things off at her house, she had had a very draining couple of days. So an unexpected non-birthday gift was a day-brightener.

She likes blue-green and sunflowers. The flowers here were multi-layered stickers.

Here are the Valentine’s cards:

This one was for Jim:

The heart and EKG-type readout were done with the Cricut. The original idea I had seen for something similar to this said, “You make my heart beat faster.” Since I have afib, I thought that might not be the best wording. ๐Ÿ™‚

This was for Jeremy, who likes foxes:

The fox here is a puffy sticker. I used a heart-shaped punch for the cut-out and did the wording for the sign on the computer. Everything else is scrapbooking paper.

When I saw this, I couldn’t resist it for Jason, even though it meant downloading and printing a file rather than cutting and pasting. ๐Ÿ™‚

If you are not familiar with these characters, they are from the Mandalorian. I don’t know much about Star Wars and haven’t even seen all the movies, but we loved this series. Jason especially like the fatherhood theme in it. “This is the way” is something the Mandalorians say repeatedly. This was designed by Karen, which she generously offered as a free download. It’s designed with multiple cards on one page that can be cut out and distributed to kids’ friends. I adapted it for a single larger card.

This one was for Mittu:

The cupcake was made with the Cricut, the hearts with hole punches, and the words with stickers.

This was Timothy’s:

It’s also Mandalorian-inspired, designed and generously offered free by Mandee. And she even included a link that explained how to download this into the Cricut to be cut there, so I learned a new facet of the Cricut. I hadn’t thought about Baby Yoda when I was at Hobby Lobby buying supplies, and I was relieved to have just the right shade of green paper among my stash.

This was for Jesse. I just liked that paper for him, as he likes red but doesn’t like overly mushy cards.

The “love” and “hugs” were stickers.

Finally, this was for Mittu’s birthday. She likes sunflowers and purple, but until now I had not seen paper that combined the two.

The “Happy birthday” and sunflowers by it were stickers. The rest was from a scrapbooking paper set.

Watching and Listening

As previously mentioned, the Olympics took up most of our viewing time this month. Though I enjoyed them, I’m kind of glad they’re over.

We’re still watching The Amazing Race and the Holderness family podcast/video recaps the day after each episode airs.

Around the World in 80 Days wrapped up on PBS. As I said last month, though no film adaptation is going to be exactly like the book, they rewrote too much of this one. Really, I felt they just hijacked the characters and main story arc to write their own program, adding in modern-day dilemmas and sensibilities. But . . . if I stopped comparing it to the book and just took it as it was, I enjoyed it. My husband had never read the book and enjoyed the series a lot. I tried to resist saying “In the book it was like this . . .” too often, but I did let it slip sometimes.

All Creatures Great and Small on PBS Masterpiece Theatre finished its second season this last Sunday. I’ve only read the first book in Herriot’s series, and that was a long time ago, so I am not sure how much was changed between book and film. But I loved this series–so heart-warming. I’m looking forward to their third season.

Jim and I watched the old movie The Guns of Navarone one night. Another night, we watched Good-bye Christopher Robin, kind of a sweet and sad telling of A. A. Milne and his family: how he came to write books about Christopher Robin (his real son’s name, though he didn’t go by it in real life), how the fame affected all of them. I knew that Christopher had liked the fame at first and then resented his father’s sharing of his life later on. This might be a cautionary tale for those who write about their real-life children. In the film, Christopher eventually overcomes his resentment when he realizes the comfort and joy the Pooh stories gave people in their childhoods, the memories of which brought comfort to them even as adults. I had Christopher’s book, The Enchanted Places, in my Kindle app and immediately started reading it, hoping he came to a similar conclusion in real life. Pooh was a big part of my children’s growing-up years, though we were more familiar with the Disney videos and toys than the original books. But Pooh and Christopher Robin and the rest will always have a soft spot in my heart.

One other series I watched was on PBS was the two-part A Very British Romance, tracing romantic rituals through English literature. Pluses: the literature, courtship history, host Lucy Worsley’s dressing up as some famous literary heroines, some elaborate original Valentines. Minuses: the feminist lens through which much of this was processed, the looking down on virtuous heroines and equating virtue with weakness, the amplification of sexual liaisons or reading into books more sexuality than was originally meant. Since I recently listened to The Other Bennet Sister by Janice Hadlow, where Mary Bennet read much of Thomas Carlyle, it was interesting to hear more about him here.

Reading

The Olympics cut into my reading-before-bed time. But here’s what I managed to finish this month:

  • Half Finished by Lauraine Snelling (fiction). A group of friends starts a UFO club, not for exploring extra-terrestrial life, but for finishing unfinished projects while fellowshipping with each other. Relationships form and people band together to help each other through the sorrows and joys they encounter.
  • The Road Home by Malissa Chapin (fiction). A woman running from her past encounters a recipe box in an antique shop. An attempt to return the box to the owner’s family leads to a road trip in a pink Cadillac and the story of another woman who tried to hide truth. A very good debut novel.
  • Framley Parsonage by Anthony Trollope, the fourth of his Barsetshire Chronicles (classic fiction, audiobook). A young vicar trying to get in with society’s elite gets into trouble. The village matron’s son falls in love with the vicar’s sister rather than the beautiful but cold society maiden his mother had picked out for him.
  • The Middle Matters: Why That (Extra)Ordinary Life Looks Really Good on You by Lisa-Jo Baker (nonfiction). Lisa-Jo discusses the impact of our middle years in eight areas: our bodies, marriage, parenting (which gets two chapters), in a breezy chatting-with-girlfriends style.

I’m currently reading:

  • 100 Best Bible Verses to Overcome Worry and Anxiety (still. Almost done.)
  • Be Successful (1 Samuel): Attaining Wealth That Money Canโ€™t Buy by Warren W. Wiersbe
  • IBS for Dummies by Carolyn Dean and L. Christine Wheeler
  • The Enchanted Places: A Childhood Memoir by Christopher Milne
  • The Small House at Allington by Anthony Trollope (audiobook)
  • Just 18 Summers by Michelle Cox and Rene Gutteridge

Next in the queue: The Four Loves by C. S. Lewis, Another Gospel?: A Lifelong Christian Seeks Truth in Response to Progressive Christianity by Alisa Childers, The Last Chronicle of Barset by Anthony Trollope, Wiersbe’s “Be” book on 2 Samuel.

Blogging

Besides book reviews, Friday Fave Fives, and Saturday Laudable Linkage, I had these posts on the blog this month:

  • Ways to Disagree Without Tearing Each Other Down. Disagreements are inevitable, even among those we love best. But we can disagree graciously and constructively without belittling each other.
  • Don’t Let Truth Become Cliche. If some parts of the Bible seem trite or overly familiar to us, the solution is not to scale back on our Bible reading. I share some ways to refresh our view and renew our love for the Word.
  • Does He Still Love Me? Sometimes it’s hard to comprehend God’s love for us when we continue to mess up. Maybe that’s why Paul prayed the Ephesians might “know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledgeโ€ (Ephesians 3:19).
  • What Can We Know for Sure? Some say there is no absolute truth, even in Christianity. But, though people will argue about some things until we get to heaven, God has given us core truths that we can know for sure.

Incidentally, I noticed a while back that I had passed the 5,000 mark in posts. I’m at 5,059 now in 15 1/2 years of blogging.

As we wrap up February and turn to March, we look forward to my husband’s birthday early in the month and Pi Day (when we eat pie on 3/14). Then the calendar is pretty much free until mid-April. I hope to dig into some writing then.

I’m aware of the news, though I don’t mention it much here. I figure it’s mentioned plenty elsewhere. There’s not much we can do about any of it except pray, but that’s the biggest, best, most important thing we can do. Among my prayers: wisdom for our leaders (1 Timothy 2:1-4), that events will cause people to turn to the Lord, “that all the peoples of the earth may know your name and fear you” (1 Kings 8:43), that those suffering may know “The Lord is a stronghold for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble. And those who know your name put their trust in you, for you, O Lord, have not forsaken those who seek you” (Psalm 9:9-10).

(I often link up with some of these bloggers.)

December Reflections

I wasn’t sure, at first, whether I’d do an end-of-December post. Probably many of our activities have been the same as yours, with getting ready for and then celebrating Christmas. But there were a few things unique to this month, so I decided to go ahead.

Family news

My oldest son is visiting, as he always does for Christmas. But he’s staying a week longer than usual, for two reasons. First, he usually leaves the Sunday after Christmas. This year, that would have meant leaving the day after Christmas, which would have been an abrupt end to our holiday togetherness. Plus, my middle son’s workplace is its busiest in December. On top of that, the temp agencies they work with this time of year promised 20 workers, but only two came. So Jason has been working nights and weekends for weeks. If Jeremy had left the 26th, he would not have seen Jason’s family much at all. So this week Jeremy is working from home here during the day, then we have more visiting time in the evenings. It has been nice to have the extra time together after the busyness leading up to Christmas subsides.

Jim and I celebrated our 42nd anniversary a few days before Christmas. We usually celebrate with a nice meal out and exchanging cards. This year we went to a ritzier restaurant than usual because when we sold our rental house earlier this year, at closing our realtor gave us a gift card to Ruth Chris Steakhouse. We had never been there before. It was very nice. I’m afraid I could get used to luxury all too easily.

Creating

This has been a banner month for card-making. I buy Christmas cards to send to extended family and friends, but I make them for immediate family. Plus we had some other occasions for cards this month.

This was for a friend’s birthday. The white part was done with a Cuttlebug embossing folder.

This was for our pastor’s surprise party for his 50th birthday. I got the idea from Pinterest and used the Cricut for the numbers and window. The words were stickers.

This was for our anniversary. My husband was a physics major, math minor, so when I saw this idea, it appealed to me.

This was Jim’s Christmas card. The deer and trees were done with the Cricut. I printed out the words for all the Christmas cards on the computer.

I did think about saying deer/dear instead of love, but I resisted. ๐Ÿ™‚

This was Jeremy’s. I usually do something with a fox for him. But he has a cat, so I decided to use the feline influence. The cat was made with the Cricut, the presents from scrapbooking paper.

His cat isn’t totally black: she has some brown/tan/gold colors in her fur. But there was no way I could replicate that, so solid black would have to do.

This was Jason’s. I wanted to use the fa la la paper in some way, and he’s the most interested in playing different instruments. The instruments were done with the Cricut; the frame was done with decorative scissors.

This is Mitttu’s. The door was done with the Cricut. I printed the wreath from some free clip art and cut it out by hand.

Timothy’s is supposed to look like a snow globe. I was excited to work with clear acetate for the top of it. I had some little plastic bits from a package of snowflake confetti that I used for the snow–the snowflakes themselves were too big. But static cling keeps the “snow” from moving around much. If I ever do this again, I’ll use sequins. The snowman and trees were stickers.

Jesse’s contains something of an inside joke. For his white elephant gift for a young adults Christmas party, he found some pizza socks—a set of socks decorated with different pictures of pizza toppings, folded all together in a pizza box. So, I thought, since a pizza slice is the same shape as a Christmas tree . . . I’d use that as the base of his card. The pizza slice was done on the Cricut.

This year’s Christmas cards are some of my favorites.

Reading

Since last time I have completed:

  • Christian Reflections by C. S. Lewis. His thoughts on literature, culture, church music, ethics, subjectivism, and more. Challenging, but good.
  • Be Available (Judges): Accepting the Challenge to Confront the Enemy by Warren W. Wiersbe
  • The Nature of a Lady by Roseanna M. White. I had just finished this last month but had not reviewed it then. Lady Elizabeth takes her maid to the Isles of Scilly to escape the marriage her brother is trying to arrange for her. But she is mistaken for another Elizabeth and given strange notes and packages. The local vicar—the other Elizabeth’s brother—works with Libby to try to decipher the messages and find his sister.
  • Chapel Springs Revival by Ane Mulligan. reminded me of I Love Lucy, but with a Southern accent. Not my favorite, but if you like that kind of humor, you’d probably enjoy this book.
  • A Quilt for Christmas by Sandra Dallas, a Civil war-era novel. A women makes a quilt for her husband while he is soldiering. It comes back to her in an unusual way. Plus her beliefs are tested when she is asked to shelter a runaway slave wanted for murder.
  • A Christmas by the Sea by Melody Carlson. A woman plans to update a seaside cottage she inherited in order to sell it. But her son wants to stay there.
  • Last Christmas in Paris: A Novel of World War I by Hazel Gaynor and Heather Webb. Four friends plan to meet for Christmas in Paris after WWI ends. But it lasts much longer than expected. Several decades later, the last of the four travels to Paris for his last Christmas to read the one unopened letter remaining from their correspondence. Excellent. One of my top twelve of the year.
  • The Yuletide Angel by Sandra Ardoin. Victorian novel about an anonymous benefactor, the man who secretly guards and admires her, and another not so friendly stalker.
  • The Ornament Keeper by Eva Marie Everson. Separated after twenty years of marriage, a woman unpacks the special ornaments her husband had given her every year, remembers their lives together, and tries to figure out if they can get past the resentment and lack of forgiveness.
  • Letters from Father Christmas by J. R. R. Tolkien. Tolkien wrote letters to his children as Father Christmas for several years, complete with disasters set off by the kind but bumbling North Polar Bear. Delightful.

That looks like a lot, but most of the Christmas stories were novellas.

I’m currently reading:

I posted my top twelve books of the year here and all the books I read this year here.

Watching and Listening

My husband and I aren’t binge watchers. He can barely stand to spend two hours viewing something. We started watching the last season of the remake of Lost in Space on Netflix here and there. Then one night, after a long and busy day, we got pizza and watched the next episode. And we had to find out what happened next, so we watched on . . . and on until we finished it. It’s such a good series. I love the emphasis on family. It’s much more intense than the original version.

We also watched A Castle for Christmas, a pretty cute movie about an author who travels to the castle where her father’s family worked in Scotland and finds out its for sale. The owner needs to sell but doesn’t want to, so he tries to sabotage her plans. Then we watched Elf with Jesse and Jeremy and found out later that Jason and Mittu had also watched it. I’ve seen it once or twice before, but still enjoyed it a lot.

I listened to a podcast series by Audible set up like an old radio serial: The Cinnamon Bear: A Holiday Adventure. It was a little too much at times—a little loud and bizarre. And the opening note of its intro music is the worst in the history of intro music. But it was cute and clever in places.

Blogging

In the last month, I have shared:

Writing

Of course, writing has taken a back seat this month. But in January I want to map out time to make it a priority.

Sad News

I wasn’t quite sure where to mention this. We found out a few days before Christmas that my husband’s second oldest brother died from Covid and his wife was in ICU with Covid. It’s been something of a shock. He’s the first of any of our siblings to pass. We’re still processing and waiting to hear more.

Looking Ahead

December has been a full month. I enjoyed the time with family so much. But I am kind of glad the Christmas hoopla is over and the last few days have been more relaxed (for me anyway—maybe not so much for those returning to work). We’ll still have some time together this weekend. Then it’s on to new calendars and a bright shiny new year.

I’ve shared this before, but I love this quote from Captain Jim in Anneโ€™s House of Dreams by L. M. Montgomery:

โ€œWelcome, New Year,โ€ said Captain Jim, bowing low as the last stroke died away.
โ€œI wish you all the best year of your lives, mates.
I reckon that whatever the New Year brings us will be the best
the Great Captain has for us.โ€

(I often link up with some of these bloggers.)

February Reflections

February seems to have flown by—and not just because it’s a shorter month. It’s been a busy month, but a good one.

Valentine’s Day is always a fun for us with some special treats. We celebrated our daughter-in-law’s birthday last weekend. We closed on the rental house that my son and daughter-in-law had been renting. My husband is so relieved not to have an extra property to take care of. My youngest son found an apartment and will be moving next month. I’m excited for him but also facing the reality of an empty nest.

February is also the time of year when winter starts getting to me: the sky is often grey, the cold seeps into my bones, and I long for spring. Thankfully we’ve had some sunshine and temperatures in the 60s this week. We still have several weeks of winter, but each day brings us closer to spring! My daffodils are blooming already!

Creating

February is a big card month for us!

Early in the month we celebrated my youngest son’s 10,000th day of life. This was the card I made for him:

It took me a while to figure out what to do—I haven’t seen any other 10,000th day cards to get ideas from. ๐Ÿ™‚ I printed off a February calendar and had a stencil with the shape for the saying.

Then I made a card for each family member for Valentine’s Day. I had seen several variations of this idea on Pinterest and knew I just had to use it since my husband is a scientist.

I cut out the beakers using Cricut. I tried various background papers, but they made the card look too cluttered.

This was for my oldest son, Jeremy, who likes foxes:

I used a stencil for the heart. I printed off the sayings or captions and inside sentiments from the computer since my handwriting is not good. I cut out this one with decorative scissors and then outlined it in black. I had the hardest time finding the right fox. I have several stickers and looked up clip art, but none of them looked just right. I had some wooden cutouts, but I wasn’t sure if the glue would be strong enough to keep it on, especially as this one had to go through snail mail. Finally I got the idea to scan the fox cutout and print it, and that worked pretty well.

This was for Jason:

The bear was from a scrapbooking paper collection.

This was for my daughter-in-law, Mittu, who likes purple:

I printed out the tree from some free clipart I found online, then used a paper punch on various scrapbooking papers for the hearts.

This was for Timothy, my grandson:

I had seen an idea using the moon on Pinterest, and then saw this moon and stars design on the Cricut.

And this was for my youngest son, Jesse:

I had seen several variations of this idea on Pinterest using typewriters. But since he types via computer, I used that. I cut the computer out with the Cricut and positioned the caption behind the computer “screen.”

And finally, my daughter-in-law also likes sunflowers, so I was looking to use them somehow for her birthday card. In looking for something else on the computer, I stumbled across a file that I had purchased on sale some years ago from Karla Dornacher using sunflowers. Since Mittu also has blue in her home, this seemed perfect. So it wasn’t exactly handmade, except that I printed it off and cut it out. But I liked it, and I think Mittu did, too.

I just checked Karla’s site, and she doesn’t seem to carry this exact collection any more. But she did use the sunflower design in this printable card set.

I made one more birthday card for a friend. But when I double-checked to make sure I had the right date, I discovered her birthday was in June! I thought I saw somewhere recently that it was in February. Oh well—the card is now safely tucked away until June.

Watching

I’m still working my way through the Lark Rise to Candleford series while using my exercise bike. Jim and I really enjoyed the new PBS series of All Creatures Great and Small. I was sorry to hear the story had been changed from the original—but we did like this version.

Reading

Since last time I completed:

I usually read much more fiction than nonfiction, but that hasn’t held true this month.

I’m currently reading:

Blogging

Besides books reviews and almost weekly Friday Fave Fives and Laudable Linkages, Iโ€™ve shared on the blog this month:

As we turn the calendar page to March in a few days, we’ll have a busy couple of weeks with my husband’s birthday and my youngest son moving. But life should settle down a bit after that. I hope. You just never know.

How was your February? Any signs of spring yet?

(Sharing with Grace and Truth, Faith on Fire,Hearth and Soul,
Senior Salon, InstaEncouragements, Shannan’s What I’m Into)

End-of-December and 2020 Reflections

Well, it’s been quite the year hasn’t it? Truly we never know what a day—or a year—will bring forth (Proverbs 27:1). Much has been written about the pandemic and other events of the year, so I won’t reiterate them here. Probably the top takeaways for me this year are:

  • Hold plans loosely.
  • God is still in control. Life’s circumstances have not taken him by surprise.
  • We walk the same way we do in any circumstances—by faith.
  • Listen more, assume less.

Thankfully, our family had a couple of excursions right before the lockdowns began. That helped the initial isolation not feel as bad. My husband and I celebrated our 40th anniversary from last December a little late and went to the Gatlinburg/Sevierville/Pigeon Forge area in January to stay in a nice, cabin-like hotel, eat at a nice restaurant, attend a couple of attractions, and reread some love notes from college days. Then in February we visited the Biltmore House and Downton Abbey exhibit with all the family except my oldest, who lives out of state.

A friend and I went out for lunch during the early days of the virus and discussed it and what effects it might have. We had no idea it would be so widespread and last so long. But we were glad that we had that time together right before it.

Thankfully, my husband and three sons could all work from home for the most part. Jason, my middle son, had to go in a lot during December, their busiest time of the year. Because we were all isolating, we felt safe getting together (the strictest regulations here so far limited gatherings to ten, and we’re only seven when all together). My oldest son missed his April visit, but came in August and December via train, mostly on a sleeper car. So he hardly saw anyone on the trip, which he felt was safer (though much longer) than flying. Those gatherings and Zoom church sustained us.

We had some health issues: the atrial fibrillation which I had surgery for three years ago started up again and landed me in the ER twice. I have follow-up appointments in the next couple of weeks to see what we should do about that. The last hospital visit exposed us to COVID, as a nurse who talked about isolating from family because she worked with COVID patients kept pulling down her mask as she talked. That was the week before Jeremy’s scheduled train trip here, which made for some uncertainty. But we got a rapid COVID test the day before he was supposed to leave, and new guidelines said no symptoms and a negative test from day 5 or later after exposure only required a week’s quarantine, so we were good to go—and very thankful.

Normally I include “Timothyisms” in my monthly posts—quips from my six-year-old grandson. The only one I noted this time was when we were isolating due to one of Jason’s coworkers testing positive for COVID. They had helped us put up and decorate the Christmas tree earlier, and as we FaceTimed, I showed Timothy some of the presents accumulating under it. He said, “Granddad Claus is coming to town!”

We send store-bought Christmas cards to loved ones, but I make them for the immediate family. I try to incorporate their favorite colors and interests.

This was Jim’s:

The little squares were made with the Cuttlebug embosser.

This was for Jeremy, who likes foxes:

The background was embossed, and the fox and trees came from a scrapbook paper set. The Merry Christmas was a sticker.

This was Jason’s:

He likes blue, and I am often drawn to cheery, whimsical ideas for him. The words at the bottom were on a sticker.

This was for Mittu, my daughter-in-law, who likes purple:

The idea I had seen on Pinterest (where I get most of my inspiration) showed a tree made with heart-shaped cutouts. I decided to add the glitter-frosted edges. I liked it better before I added the Merry Christmas sticker at the bottom, but I couldn’t remove it once I glued it on.

This was Timothy’s:

I saw the idea here (via Pinterest) for using shapes to create the penguin. But mine must have been shaped a little differently—it didn’t look right to try to make it short and squatty like hers. But I thought it turned out cute. I had to get Jesse to help me with the eyes: I just couldn’t get something that tiny cut out and glued on. I wished later I had outlined the little sign so it stood out better.

This was Jesse’s:

And this was for our anniversary:

I usually list what we’ve been watching in these posts, but we haven’t watched much out of the ordinary the last two months (I missed November–there just wasn’t a good time to work an end-of-month post in). I’m still working through the Lark Rise to Candelford series while using the exercise bike. Somehow we didn’t watch any of the usual Christmas movies or specials. We streamed The Croods: A New Age and Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey to watch with the family. They were . . . okay. My husband and I watched Dolly Parton’s Coat of Many Colors when it was on TV one night and were surprised that network TV allowed such upfront messages about faith and eternal destiny. I wouldn’t take all my theology from the movie, but the message of the need to trust in God was clear.

I won’t list the books reads in November and December since I just posted all the books I read this year as well as my top twelve.

And, since this is an end-of-year post, instead of listing posts from the last two months, I thought I’d look back at the posts from the year that seemed to resonate the most with readers. My five most-read posts of the year are:

I’m thankful people found something useful there. I need to go back and remind myself of some of those truths.

It’s hard to end the year with a sense of closure and look to 2021 as bright and shiny and new when so many of this year’s problems remain: the pandemic and its physical, emotional, and economic toll, the civil and racial strife and unrest, a new administration with alarming values. But my Daily Light on the Daily Path entry for this morning was all about God bearing His people as on eagle’s wings. My Bible reading in Exodus 33 told of the time just after Israel made and worshiped the golden calf instead of God. He was going to send them on to the promised land, but not go with them Himself because they were a stiffnecked people. But Moses pleaded, and God promised, “‘My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.’ And he [Moses] said to him [God], ‘If your presence will not go with me, do not bring us up from here'” (verses 14-15). Whatever happens in the coming year, we can rely on God’s presence and depend on Him to bear us up.

(Sharing with Grace and Truth, Senior Salon, InstaEncouragements)

Cards Made in December

I’ve written end-of-month posts this year, but I didn’t for December. There just wasn’t time, plus I figured most of us were doing the same things: getting ready for and then celebrating Christmas.

One thing I mention in those end-of-month posts is the books I read. Most of December’s reading was for the Literary Christmas challenge: one Christmas novel and three collections of Christmas stories or novellas. But I also finished up The Gilded Age by Mark Twain and Charles Dudley Warner and Shakespeare’s King Lear, both audiobooks, to complete the Back to the Classics Reading Challenge. Plus I finished the devotional book I had been reading all year, Seasons of the Heart.

At the end of the month I also share any cards I’ve made that month. December was a busy month for card-making.

This one was for my husband for our 40th anniversary. It’s supposed to look like a bouquet of balloons. It didn’t come out quite as I had hoped, but my husband liked it.

I buy Christmas cards to mail out, but I make cards for the immediate family. Only once before have I had a theme in making Christmas cards, and that was snow people. This year, as I looked at the design ideas I had accumulated on Pinterest, I saw several that looked like ornaments. So I decided to use that idea. I had a Cuttlebug embosser that looked like a fir tree, so I used that for all of the backgrounds.

The design I used for Jim’s and Jeremy’s came from a free pattern I used for felt ornaments for Timothy a few years ago. I just loved both of these designs and was glad to have a chance to use them again.

Jim’s:

I used this for Jeremy because he likes foxes, but this ended up looking more like a dog. I could not find a single rust-colored paper or card stock in Hobby Lobby or my own collection. I’ll have to stock up next fall.

I think Jason likes designs that are a little playful, so this one seemed perfect. I used stick-on felt for the snowman and card stock for the bird. The eyes and smile were stick-on beads.

Mittu likes purple, and one of their Christmas trees was white, so this seemed like a good combination for her. I cut strips from various pieces of scrapbooking paper and glued them side by side for the design.

The snow people on Timothy’s were made with stickers. I was delighted to find some that represented their family.

And this is Jesse’s, cut from a piece of glittery cardstock. The word is a sticker.

I had thought about coming back and adding a word at the top of each card, but there just wasn’t time.

Finally, this card was for my step-father’s after-Christmas birthday. The design was all done on the Cricut.

So that was my month in card-making! It was a busy one. But there are none to be made in January, so I’ll have a bit of a rest before February’s Valentine cards.

(Sharing with Create, Bake, Grow, Gather)

Cards and Crafts

I thought I’d share with you some of the recent cards I made as well as a hot-off-the press craft.

This was for a baby shower for a couple at church:

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I had seen several ideas similar to this on Pinterest. The “onesies” were made with the Cricut machine. I learned you can make a reasonable looking cloud by cutting an oval or circle with scalloped scissors. I was a little afraid the twine would come loose, but I kept the card propped open on my table for a couple of days, and everything stayed put.

This was a thank-you card for a friend:

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This was another instance where the paper itself was so pretty and had enough detail that adding much else would have been superfluous.

This was for a little boy in our church recovering from surgery:

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I asked someone who knew the family well if there was an animal or character he particularly liked, and they mentioned dinosaurs. None of the dinosaur shapes on the Cricut looked like what I wanted, so I used puffy stickers. I cut the grass and hills free hand and snipped across the strip of grass to make it look a little more 3-D. then I tucked a couple more packages of dinosaur stickers inside for him to play with.

This was for Jesse’s birthday:

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He is very much into computers – his work, his major, his classes, and his hobbies all revolve around the computer. So I wanted to reflect that. The computer shape was done on the Cricut, and the desk was a scrap of wood-grained paper I had on hand. I liked it better before I added the “snacks,” so I should have left well enough alone. But they also reflect him accurately.ย  ๐Ÿ™‚ The bottle was done with the Cricut and was supposed to look like the type of flavored water he drinks. The plate and brownie I did free-hand.

When I put out my autumn decorations, I realized there was a door I had no wreath for. And we can’t have that, can we? ๐Ÿ™‚ Somehow I must have misplaced one, because I remember having a scarecrow one in addition to the one near the front door. Anyway, I remembered I had the same thought about needing another wreath last year, and even bought supplies for a burlap wreath, but didn’t get around to it then. So I found them in my craft room closet and worked on it bit by bit. It didn’t take all that long, but I had to work it into odd bits of time. I found a plethora of burlap wreath ideas on Pinterest. I found instructions for the burlap part here, and a helpful video tutorial here. The felt roses came from a site I had used before for them here. This is a much simpler way to make felt roses than many tutorials I’ve seen that tell you to cut multiple petals and sew them all together. I used a hot glue gun instead of stitches. I was really pleased with how it turned out!

I cut the leaves freehand out of felt and glued everything on with hot glue. I learned to do the bow when I worked part time for a florist friend in early married days.

True confessions: I didn’t realize until I got the burlap part all done that I hadn’t gotten the burlap loops even in length all around. So I put the flowers and bow on the place the difference was the most noticeable. Also, a couple of times while pushing the burlap through the wreath form, my thumb accidentally poked a hole in the burlap. But thankfully the loose weave that enabled the hole also enabled fixing it by just moving the threads around.

I’m trying to decide whether to put an initial or something on the other side. But for now I like it as is.

It felt really good to get some creative projects done!

Recent Cards

I thought I’d share some of the cards I’ve made recently.

This was for a friend.

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The wording was made with a stamp. I don’t remember where I got the stamp, but I love it.

This one was for Jim’s birthday in March.

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The wording was done on the computer and it and the background shapes were made with two different sized punches.

This was for Timothy’s birthday:

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Since these are licensed characters (PJ Masks, for those of you unfamiliar with preschooler TV heroes. ๐Ÿ™‚ They provided the theme for his birthday this year), I wanted to be careful not to just copy images from the Internet. I searched for free PJ Mask printables and found these as cupcake toppers, then printed and cut the figures out for the card.

The rest are for Mother’s Day. This one was for a sweet lady I’ve looked up to as an adopted spiritual mom since my college days.

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The paper was so pretty and detailed, I wanted to keep any added decorations simple.

This was for a friend, and I ended up using the same basic idea, but on a square card.

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This was for my mother-in-law:

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The design was done on the Cricut, but was a little smaller than the card, so I filled in the corners with these stick-on 3-D flowers.

And this is one of my favorites, for my daughter-in-law:

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This just looked like her and Timothy! This design was on the Cricut also, so all I had to do was choose the design and papers, push the right buttons to cut them out, and then glue it all together.

You can tell I am not a professional, with not-the-best lighting and my fingers in some of the photos to hold the cards down. But I make them as an expression of love to the recipients and for fun and a creative outlet as well.

Recent Cards

I thought I’d share with you some cards I’ve made lately, most of them for Valentine’s Day.

This one was for Jim, from an idea I saw on Pinterest.

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None of my heart punches was big enough for the size I needed for the heart cut-out, so I traced a stencil on the back to cut out with an Xacto knife. But I forgot that, since it was on the back, I needed to tilt it the opposite direction from what I wanted it to be on the front. So trying to write the initials the right direction was really confusing – I guess that must be the way left-handed people feel about much of the right-handed world. In fact, after a number of tries, I ended up tilting the paper with the initials on it to line up with the direction of the heart, resulting in the “grain” of the wood print underneath to run diagonally instead of vertically. But don’t tell anyone – maybe they won’t notice. ๐Ÿ™‚

This was for my oldest son, apt since he lives in another state:

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This was also spurred from a Pinterest find. To take you behind the scenes a bit, when I clicked through to the web site from which it came, I read that the box came from a stamp. I didn’t want to buy a stamp for a one-time usage and didn’t know if I could find one anyway, so first I tried to draw one. That didn’t go so well. ๐Ÿ™‚

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So I thought I’d look for a clip-art box online that I could trace around, and then it dawned on me that I could print off a clip-art box and then just cut it out (duh!). So I did that and used an Xacto knife to open a slit to put the little hearts into. The hearts were made with a heart punch and several scraps of red paper. The letters were stickers, which I ended up not being too crazy about because the sticker wasn’t just the letter: it included a little plastic around the letter, and when the light hits it just right, you can see all the plastic. But I did like the script and the way it came out overall.

This was for Jason, also inspired by Pinterest:

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I just noticed the title there said this was from designs “for her,” but I thought this was masculine-looking and used it for that reason! I found a world map online, printed it out, and used a stencil to make the heart shape.

This was for Mittu. She likes purple, so I looked through my purple papers until I came up with an idea. The design was embossed with a Cuttlebug folder, one I don’t think I had used yet.

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The wording on all of these except Jeremy’s was done on the computer, and I used scrapbooking scissors to make the edge on this one.

This was Timothy’s:

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You can tell who he likes. ๐Ÿ™‚ This idea was also from Pinterest. I found the cityscape on the Cricut and cut it out there. I found the Batman logo online and finagled the ray of light myself. I was going to put “Have a SUPER Valentine’s Day” in the light, like the example did, but the space ended up being small, so I just put a heart there and wished him a “super-duper” Valentine’s Day inside – apt not only for the superhero logo but also because he says “super-duper” sometimes.

This was Jesse’s:

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I found this design on the Cricut Design Space and and used the Cricut to cut it out, so it was pretty easy. And this was good for him – conveying the thought without being mushy. ๐Ÿ™‚

This one I was going to throw away, but I ended up not having time to make another one. It was from this idea and was going to be for my husband. Though it looks cute there, my version ended up looking childish, so I put it aside and went with the other idea I had for him above. As I worked on the other cards, I thought perhaps I could rework this for my mother-in-law and decided to use that idea if I didn’t have time to come up with something else. As it turned out, I didn’t have time – somehow I miscalculated and thought I had another week before Valentine’s Day, and then it hit me I think on Sunday that Valentine’s Day was THAT week. So I had to do all the cards between Monday and Wednesday. I changed the sentiment to “You planted love…” on the outside, and inside, “…and grew a family,” and went on to say that her love started it all for the rest of us. I liked the thought but still didn’t like the design itself – primarily the stems. I had tried to cut them out freehand and that just didn’t work very well.

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Then we celebrated my daughter-in-law’s birthday recently, and I made this card for her:

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Once again I looked through my purplish papers for inspiration, and when I started to use this one, I decided to keep the design simple since the paper itself was so pretty and had a lot of design in it. The wording and mat underneath were done with two different-sized punches.

The hard time I have with making cards for Mittu is that, since she’s the only daughter-in-law in the family so far, I have all these feminine ideas pinned and have a hard time narrowing down which one to use! And then I ended up not using any of my pinned ideas at all for her cards. But I liked how they turned out.

So, that’s it for this time – not perfect or professional, but heartfelt. ๐Ÿ™‚

Homemade Christmas cards and other stray thoughts

Today is the first “back to the old routine” day in a while. I love all the holiday activities, and God was kind to grant me some pockets of quietness and rest amid the busyness. Getting out of the normal routine for several weeks was fun and refreshing. Getting back into it feels both good and sad at the same time. We had a wonderful Christmas with all the family home and then a very quiet but enjoyable New Year’s Eve and Day.

I thought I’d show you the Christmas cards I made for the family. I buy boxes of them for extended family and friends – I’d never be able to make as many as I send out – but for our own family I like to make individual ones.

This is Jim’s:

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It doesn’t show up in the photo, but the white words are flocked. If I had been thinking, I would have cut off the bottom pine cone so more of the word Noel showed up.

This is Jeremy’s:

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Sometimes ideas come from others I’ve saved on Pinterest, sometimes from something in the Cricut design space, and sometimes they come as a result of looking over the materials I have. This one started out with the fox sticker, as Jeremy likes foxes, and then the other elements came one by one. This is one of my favorite cards I’ve ever made.

This is Jason’s:

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I had wanted to use blue because he likes blue, and I had also wanted to use the snowflake embossing folder on one, so those came together here.

This is Mittu’s:

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I love that cozy sweater background paper, and they love coffee, so these seemed like a good pairing. The cups were done with the Cricut.

This is Jesse’s:

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This started with the word sticker – that just seemed to fit him. Everything on the white part is a sticker.

This is Timothy’s:

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I had seen the cookies on a cookie sheet idea on Pinterest, but the shapes on it were three of the same gingerbread men. As I looked through my scrapbook paper, I found one with these gingerbread figures on them, so I cut them out. Thankfully I had enough of a scrap of the metallic paper for the cookie sheet. ๐Ÿ™‚

This is Jim’s mom’s:

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And this was for Jim for our anniversary:

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Other stray thoughts this morning:

  • We had turned on the TV New Year’s Eve long enough to see the ball drop, and I commented that I always wondered how they did bathroom issues in Times Square during that event. I envisioned a long row of port-a-potties somewhere. Jeremy looked it up and said there are no port-a-potties – and businesses don’t let the crowds come in to use the restrooms. And some people are there as early as 8 in the morning! They also don’t allow backpacks or large bags, don’t allow people to sit down, and they kick out the food stands to make more room for people. I looked up a couple more articles this morning (here and here). I never had aspirations to go to this anyway, but it’s definitely on my “Nope, I don’t think I’ll ever do this” list – which is guess is the opposite of a bucket list. ๐Ÿ™‚
  • I’ve rediscovered cheese and crackers as a snack. My mom used to always send Swiss Colony cheese and sausage packages for Christmas until the kids all got older and it got too expensive to send them. But usually one of us gets a Hickory Farms package at some point during the Christmas season. This year we opened it on Christmas Eve. Then I had mentioned earlier that somehow we got started having the Chicken in a Biskit and Easy Cheese during the holidays, so I have enjoyed munching on them all month. They may not be the healthiest snack, though – especially the Easy Cheese – so I probably need to find a better salty snack.

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  • One of the things I miss most about putting Christmas decorations away is the lights. But not enough to keep any up year-round.
  • I’ve also enjoyed several weeks of Christmas music. I got a new Christmas CD this year, Worship the Newborn King from the Wilds Christian camp. I especially loved the Candlelight Carol. I’ve loved that for years but rarely hear it. Other long time favorites have been their Christmas With Friends album (although that doesn’t seem to be available any more) and Sacred Music Services’ King of Glory. I also like some of Pentatonix – not the more raucous stuff, but I especially like their versions of Silent Night, The First Noel, Carol of the Bells, Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy, Mary Did You Know, and others in that vein.
  • I don’t make resolutions per se, but I do like to make reading plans for the year and map out some projects I want to work on, so I hope to do that this week. I like to incorporate some purposefulness in my reading but with some flexibility in case I come across something new I want to read during the year. I hope to have my reading plans posted in the next day or two.
  • Also this time of year you see a lot of people writing about words for the year. I’m not sure how that got started. A lot of people derive great blessing from it, and that’s great. Personally I have never felt led to do so. Usually God has more than one word to work on in my life at any given time. ๐Ÿ™‚ But can I say, if you feel stressed about choosing a word for the year or guilty because you don’t have one, don’t worry about it. Seek God about it, and if you sense His leading toward one area of concentration, then go for it, but if not, just seek Him in His Word and seek His will every day.
  • This is also a good time of year to find a good Bible reading plan if you haven’t already. I wrote on that extensively here. There are all kinds available. Probably the best plan is one you’ll actually use. Reading the Bible through in a year is a good thing for several reasons. A Christian radio station I listen to reads through the Bible throughout the year during daily 15 minute segments, not really too difficult for anyone. The last few years I have continued to read the complete Bible, but not in a year. I am not sure how long it takes me. I aim for a couple of chapters a day, but vary it according the the length, difficulty, or density of the passage I am in and whether I want to stop and slow down in certain passages.

And now I had best get on to some of that daily routine that needs attending to. Thanks for visiting. ๐Ÿ™‚

(Sharing with What Iโ€™m Intoย atย Leigh Kramer)

Father’s Day Cards

I thought I’d show you the cards I made for this last Father’s Day.

This was for my step-father, adapted from an idea seen on Pinterest.

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I love that it’s simple but still makes for a nice design. The buttons were made on the Cricut machine. I toyed with using real buttons and thread, but I was afraid they might fall off in transit.

This was for my son. My grandson likes super-heroes, so I thought it was fitting for a super-dad. ๐Ÿ™‚

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This was from one of the Cricut Design Space’s “Make It and Take It” cards, but I tweaked it a bit from what they had – they didn’t have the “Super” at the top, and their whole card was the size of the blue frame.

For my husband, I wanted something to do with grilling, so I searched the Cricut Design Space’s files for “grill.” Both this grill and the little man showed up, so I used both of them. The design kind of evolved as I worked. I cut little snippets with scissors in the “grass” so it would look like grass blades. I started to stick the figures in the grass, but we grill on our patio, so I used the textured-looking grey paper for the patio. I was going to put “Well done” at the top (a play on the idea of well-done food and well-done fathering), then decided I would put that in a cloud. I had everything centered in the middle but thought the cloud looked odd centered right over the figures as if it was about to rain on them. So I moved it to the side and added another for balance, cutting them both out freehand (I had typed the “Well Done” and printed it on cardstock, along with the inside sentiments of the cards). Then the bottom corners looked like they needed something, so I looked up flowerpots. This flower design actually had a couple of other layers on the flowers and leaves, but they were so tiny they didn’t come out well. I decided the flowers looked ok as is.

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That was it for this time. I think everyone liked their cards. ๐Ÿ™‚

(Sharing with Made By You Monday)