Tuesday, December 30, 2008


The end of another year - the start of a brand new blank, clean, fresh one. It is always fun to look back at our year - and look ahead to what might be coming. The hope and expectations of good times, family fun, friends, projects and unexpected joys.

We've had a grand year - started out with buying our new house. Every single day when I walk through the house, or open the gigantic linen closet, or enjoy the view of the woods across the street, or work in the fabulous kitchen, or hear rain on the skylights I again realize how very much I love this house. It has been a delight to live in and share with friends and family. Our grandsons have enjoyed the yard and the swingset - and we've enjoyed having them here - along with their families.

We have celebrated birthdays and anniversaries and several holidays here this year - making great memories.

We learned anew the joys of owning our own home - after renting for 7 years - and the fun of doing just what we want - like replacing skimpy little closet doors, or putting in carpet of our own choosing - in our own home. Along with that came the interesting aspects of new gutters, a new hot water heater and discovering a rotten board on the back porch.

Along with our good times came the trying times - a furious trip to the emergency room - five days in the hospital and a gall bladder surgery - and losing good friends - especially the other grandma in July - oh how we all miss her. But our families come together in the good times and the not as good times - and draw closer to one another.

We've had some nice family get-aways - to Chilliwack BC and to Ocean Beach in SW WA - families spending time together, relaxing, cooking, reading, talking, enjoying.

And then there are the joys of new birds at our feeders, racoon racing along the ditch across the street,

squirrels chasing each other and leaping from branch to branch and making a little boy laugh, and deer coming into the yard in small herds, or alone, to eat apples and munch a few of my freshly planted flowers.

We look forward to new experiences and more fun in the coming year. We like to end our old year with some fun New Years Eve traditions. I hope you enjoy them as much as we have enjoyed doing them over the years.

On New Years Eve - place pennies in all your shoes. This is to bring good luck into your life for the coming year.

Throw a glass of water out the door at midnight - to signify being rid of tears for the new year.

Eat 12 raisins at midnight - one at each stroke of the clock, one for each coming month - for good health in the new year.

Hide money outdoors before midnight - and make sure it is the first thing you bring inside in the New Year. The first thing you do after midnight is what you will do all year.

Don't sweep your floors or take out the trash on New Years Day - or things will be leaving your house all through the year. I like that - no cleaning on New Years Day - a good day to relax.

Write a note to someone who won't be expecting it - tell them you love them or appreciate them - or give them praise for something that most people did not notice them doing this past year. I always make sure I have a supply of notecards and stamps so I have no reason to delay writing notes - and it is a good activity for starting a new year.

Practice a random act of kindness, or two, to start the year off right.

Let's give hugs - or lend a helping hand, let's notice someone who needs a smile, or let's hand some money to that cold, lonely man on the street corner who has had to bear ugly looks and mean comments all day long, and still he is so desperate that he will endure all this to try and bring a little money to his family. And let's give him another smile - it might just be the thing that will make his day. Let's wave to our neighbor - or better yet - let's bake some cookies or a pie and take it to them, just because.

May your year be blessed - and may you find many exciting adventures as you start your new year.

Sunday, December 28, 2008


The tree is down, the decorations are packed away, the dining room is rearranged, the whole house is vacuumed and dusted, the books are back in their proper place and peace settles over the house. I love this time of the holiday season - the house is nice and clean for the new year - the presents are put away, or used, or just enjoyed - and all is calm. My plan for each New Year's Day is to have the house completely cleaned and ready for a fresh start. And I'd like to wish all my blogland friends a very happy new year!

The Space Needle in Seatlle goes all out for the New Year - filling the sky with fireworks that are set off on the different levels of the Space Needle.

We've never been there in person - but I hear it is fabulous - especially if the air is clear and there is no rain.

I want to wish you all a Happy New Year - - -

May your dreams come true - - - -

In Russian - - -

And in German - - -

And with a fairy in a pretty leaf boat - - -

Dreams and hopes are wonderful things - may yours be grand and beautiful this new year.

I'm not much for resolutions - but I would like to find a word for this new year for myself - and I think I've found it. I wish to simplify my life, my work, my play, my house - just about anything that I touch this new year I want to be simpler and more enjoyable.

I want to enjoy the simplicity - the ease of having less and doing more for others.

I want to enjoy nature more

And look for the joys of simple things.

I want to find a simple time, a simple place - right here in the middle of a busy bustling city - right here in my own small grove of trees - right here in that special spot we call home.

This doesn't mean I am giving away all my possessions, or giving up modern conveniences (I'd hate to have to live without my computer), or changing my life completely. The word simplicity is just a reminder to me to find a calm spot, a slow pace, a sweet connection with nature and my friends - two legged, four legged and winged.

I was surprised while searching the internent for "simplicity" how often it came with a message that we must buy something, or obtain something new in order to simplify. That seems to be the opposite of the meaning of the word, and I think it shows how much I need to simplify - without the buying and obtaining. May the path you choose for this coming year be one that thrills you and brings you peace and happiness.

Friday, December 26, 2008


I love cloth napkins - we've used them all the years we've been married (44 and counting) and the current ones are beginning to show their age - some are over 20 years old. Sharyn also has been making some new napkins - hers are different from mine - and she gives a great tutorial for hemming napkins.

I go to thrift stores a lot and recently I've been buying woven plaid tablecloths - usually for 2.99 each - and a couple weeks ago I began cutting them up into squares for napkins.

Then I zigzag about 1" in from the edge of the napkins - a very close zigzag. I try to coordinate the thread with the main color in the napkin. Next is the fringing - pulling the threads out on the area past the zigzagging stitch.

The pile of threads I pulled to fringe the napkins! It weighs almost a whole pound!

This takes time, and a couple sore fingers, but is sure worth it when you have a nice stack of fringed napkins. This only works with even weave fabrics - or if you tear the fabric if it is a regular cotton, to get an even edge for the fringing. I really like the woven plaids that I use. I search for them whenever I am at thrift shops or yard sales.

All stacked up and ready to be stitched.

These are the only napkins that were made from purchased fabric. I got this at JoAnn Fabrics about a year ago - I have two tablecloths with hearts in the corners - they match these napkins perfectly.

Great napkins for a picnic.

I bought two tablecloths at Goodwill in this fabric - I cut up the smaller one for napkins - got 8 napkins out of it - and can use the second tablecloth on the picnic table in the summer, or on the indoors table if it rains on our picnic.

These napkins were made from a Martha Stewart tablecloth. I loved the cloth - except that it has a hideous turquoisey green stripe running all around the edge - with another border of stripes in this red color. So ugly - but the main part of the tablecloth made super neat napkins.

These are smaller napkins in a similar design that were Don's grandparent's everyday napkins. They are getting so old that we prefer to not use them anymore - and these will be a great replacement. We will think of the old napkins when we use the new ones.

Traditionally napkins were used over and over before they were washed. Each person had a napkin ring with their initial on it and after a meal they would put their napkin back in the ring, to be used the next meal. Two of Don's grandparents' napkins are exceptionally worn and faded, and we figure that those were the two that were used the most, while the others were for when company came.

This is probably my favorite - and it goes perfectly with our everyday Corelle "Chutney" design dishes. All of them will go with the dishes, but this green is the perfect match.

I'm just crazy about these dishes. They were a gift from our kids two christmases ago. I think they are perfect as "Washington" dishes.

Here are the finished napkins - one of each kind - I just love them.

I have two of these napkins and a tablecloth to match-and am considering cutting up the tablecloth to make more napkins. I got the tablecloth and two napkins at the Salvation Army store. They have an annoying practice of splitting up sets of things and sending some of the set to several stores. They seem to think it is better to spread all the good stuff around - but it is not so good an idea in my opinion, especially when you have no idea where the other napkins might be - and if you did know - the store if probably too far away to travel to. Since I use napkins a lot more than tablecloths I will probably end up cutting up that fall colors tablecloth too.

I've certainly had a grand time making the napkins - and can't wait to be using them every day. I will still look for woven plaid tablecloths at the thrift stores just in case our daughters or son need new napkins too. I just can't resist them. And they would certainly make great gifts.

Every year I give the house a complete cleaning after taking down the christmas decorations and that way the house is clean and fresh for the new year. I am going to be doing some rearranging of furniture - starting tomorrow - to begin the winter housecleaning. I will replace all the holiday napkins in the drawer with the brand new ones. I plan to iron all the tablelcoths too and get them back on their shelf in the linen closet. I really enjoy this time between christmas and New Years.

Thursday, December 25, 2008


A Fairy Merry Christmas to you - may your day be extra special and your joys be magical and beyond belief.

We had a fabulous christmas eve with our family. Ben, our four year old grandson, spent most of the day with us - helping us set the table - rearranging things after it was set - and just generally being a little helper.

Then our daughters and their families arrived about 3 and the feast began. We had a buffet laid out that Don and I had prepared earlier - lots of good food and it was such a good time. The boys played games and ran back and forth - so excited about the gifts on christmas and happy to be together again.

The food was delicious - and plentiful.

We talked of christmases past - of the lighted boat show in N. CA - and the photos I had taken on a clear beautiful night.

We enjoyed pretty lights

And lovely decorations

And just enjoyed being together and feeling so good during this holiday season.

May all your christmas dreams come true and you memories be plentiful.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008


Twas the night before Christmas - and all through the house -

Preparations are going on for the big day - food is being prepared - gifts are being wrapped - plots are hatched for treasure hunts for special gifts and plans are being made for that extra special surprise for loved ones.

I love Christmas eve - the excitement - the fun - the smells - the food. We have a drop-in day - with the table laden with food and music playing. We don't have anything traditional in the way of food - just things that our family loves.


Last night I had a lovely dream,
But strange as it could be,
For on the hill beside our house
Was a great Christmas tree.

It glowed with lighted candles,
High at the top, a star,
And 'round it, dancing in a ring,
Children from near and far.

There were little English girls,
Swiss boys with funny skis,
Dutch children in their wooden shoes,
Joined hands with shy Chinese.

Turkish lads is tussled fez,
Tots from France and Greece and Poland,
Laughing as the children do
In the safety of a free land.

Perhaps my dream's a prophecy
Of Christmases to be,
When little children everywhere
Can sing because they're free.

I surely wish with all my heart,
On this day joy and mirth,
That peace and love and happiness
Shall soon cover the earth.
(author unknown)

Trees are glowing with lights. I love holiday traditions!

In Germany, the last ornament on the tree is a pickle shaped ornament. In the morning, the child who finds the Christmas pickle gets a special present.

Traditionally, the doors of the home were thrown open at midnight on Christmas Eve to let the trapped evil spirits out.

The Christmas candle is left burning in a window all night to enlighten the path of the good luck for the coming year to the household.

Sweeping the threshold on Christmas eve was thought to clear out trouble for the next year.

Lucky birds are welcome on Christmas and signify good luck.

Many traditions go along with eating at the holidays

Three sips of salted water before Christmas dinner was said to bring good luck.

It was believed to be lucky to eat an apple on Christmas Eve.

Fish scales were placed under the dinner plates for luck. (don't have any pictures of fish scales that looked christmasy - so we will look at snowmen on pretty red dishes)

A pot of honey on the table was thought to be a protection against evil.

Mushrooms were served on Christmas dinner table to give health and strength.

Young unmarried girls used to cut a twig from the cherry tree on St Barbora's Day or 4th of December and put it in water. If it bloomed by Christmas Eve, her marriage was predicted within a year.

If shaking an Elder Tree on Christmas Eve makes a dog bark, then the young girl was said to find the man of her dreams in the general direction of the bark.

According to English customs, 'If you do not give a new pair of shoes to a poor person at least once in your lifetime, you will go barefoot in the next world', so English people often give shoes as Christmas presents to the poor.

Unmarried girls may throw a shoe over their shoulders and towards the door. If the shoe lands with its toe pointing towards the door the girl will marry within a year.

So we travel about the world - having fun with traditions and ceremonies - may your Christmas Eve be wonderful in every way.