Wednesday, December 30, 2015

The Best Gift of All

How quickly the holidays come and go.  I can't believe we got everything done despite the time crunch and feeling as if we wouldn't be able to check off everything on that darn list.  But, as they always do, things fall into place and worked themselves out.  We got the Christmas cards done, the shopping finished, the Christmas Eve dinner prepared and the Christmas cookies tied with a little bow.  We celebrated quietly with my little family (me, my husband, my brother and mother, and my daughter and son-in-law) and went to bed early as we seem to do more often now that my husband and I are getting older.  We took some time to count our many blessings - especially with the stress of the last few years navigating through the recession.  It truly was a time to celebrate.

Just when we thought it was over, an opportunity came our way.  An opportunity of the feline sort.

We've always had pets.  Over the 32 years of marriage and even before that, we've had either a cat, or dog, or combination thereof, in the household.  Numerous kittens ended up in our woodpile (we often thought people abandoned kittens there since it was accessible from the street) or we adopted them from the shelter.  Our two dogs were rescued greyhounds and were amazing pets.  With all of these critters, it was heartbreaking to say goodbye and after losing our last cat that we had had for over 13 years, we didn't have the heart to start over again.

One of my Facebook friends frequently shares posts from a local shelter.  A couple of days after Christmas, there was a plea for someone to adopt sibling kittens.  That was exactly what we were looking for... kittens... and siblings!  We knew from experience that sibling kitties are a lot of fun and that we could have multiple felines without the spraying and discontent that sometimes accompany trying to get two animals to get along with one another.  I immediately messaged the FB shelter page and got a quick response.  Yes we were interested in more than one kitten, yes we were willing to pay the fee for the vet bills and shelter charges and yes, we would be more than willing to drive out and pick one or two up!  Beautiful snowshoe siamese kittens!!

We drove to the foster home and knew right away that we loved these little guys.  We took home a brother and sister and were enchanted with them both.  They were shy and timid and hid themselves until they felt comfortable.  We had a blast buying all the "kitty supplies" - litter box, food, kitty condo, toys - and within a day or two they were much more at ease.  No sooner did we settle in when I received a text message from the foster kitty mom.  Would we be willing to take the last little brother?  She had a family that was interested, but she wasn't getting a good vibe from the initial meeting.  Plus this little guy was really missing his brother and sister.   She said she KNEW that he would be happy to be with them again and she KNEW we were good kitty parents, so would we be willing to take number three?  She'd even drive him over to US!  A deal too good to refuse!

So, here we are, ready to begin a new year with three new little family members.  Who could ask for more?  We are grateful for all of our blessings - especially these three little guys who will be with us for years to come!  Thanks so much to the shelter for taking them in even though they were not weaned and very vulnerable, to the vet who checked them and made sure they were viable, and to the foster "mom" who weaned them and kept them healthy until they could be adopted.  It was worth it.  They are adorable.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

How Many Days Until...??

Here's an easy chalkboard gift that you can make in a short amount of time!

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  • Purchase or repurpose a frame - this one is 8" x 10". 
  • Pull out the glass and spray it with 2 to 3 coats of chalkboard paint.  I like black, but there are other colors to choose from. 
  • On a piece of paper, the size of your glass, write "days until Christmas".  Don't worry if your writing isn't perfect.  Sometimes our unique handwriting is what others cherish!  However, you can always type the words on your computer in a large font and use that.
  • Rub chalk over the back side of the writing.
  • Place the paper on top of the spray painted glass.
  • Trace the letters with a pencil.
  • Paint. 
  • After paint is dry, take the chalk and rub the side over the entire surface.  Wipe with a soft (flannel) cloth.
  • Reassemble the frame.
I purchased some Christmas decorations at Hobby Lobby, including the curly ribbon (it was in the wrapping paper section) and then just hot glued them to the top of the frame.  I tied a ribbon bow around a piece of chalk and attached that as well.  A small piece of flannel was taped to the back.

That's it!!  You're done!

Festive Porch

It's that time of year again!  I can't believe it's been three years since I started just writing down thoughts here and there as I prepared for the holidays!  My intention was to craft a lot and write a lot, but sometimes real life gets in the way.  This December is no exception.  My Christmas cards, usually done and in the mail around the first of the month are non-existent.  I haven't even purchased them yet.  (Guess I wasn't on the ball last year, because I usually buy them for the next year so I don't end up looking for ones I like at the last minute.  Oops.)  Decorating is pretty much done, thanks to my husband - I didn't unpack a single thing.  For a control freak like myself, that's pretty huge.  I have been making quite a few chalkboards for people to give as gifts, so that does take up some time, and we've been helping my daughter and her husband with their newly purchased very fixer-upper home every spare minute during the past few weekends.  But, that's no excuse.  Time to get it together!!

I was able to do a couple of small things however, so I'm not as much of a holiday slacker as I make myself out to be!

When in Chicago over the holidays a while ago, I noticed that all the planters downtown were decorated.  I loved the look and had hoped to replicate it somewhere, somehow.  When we went to a local hardware store with a Christmas tree lot, they had the cut off branches in a bin, free for the taking.  I took a few.  Together with the pine cones I'd been collecting and a few purchased items, I was able to decorate the two pots on our porch (which are planted with dwarf fruit trees) and make them look a little more festive.  Then, on a visit to Pier One for some new items for our Christmas Eve dinner, I saw some plaid seat cushions I loved.  I bought two and put them on the wicker chairs on our porch even though they aren't outdoor cushions.  It's so Christmasy, and with our warmer drought weather, we're still able to sit out on the porch in the evening and have a glass of wine!

Here's the planter... I added greenery from nearby trees, some berry stems I purchased at Michael's, a few pinecones spraypainted white, and a few eucalyptus stems that I also purchased at Michael's.  Around the edges, I added some thin tree branches.

Easy, pretty and festive! (Just be sure to water it once in awhile to keep it fresh as possible.)

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