Friday, November 28, 2014

Holiday traditions

I'm not sure this year's holidays will feel right. My parents have their moving date into the condo, a little over a week away. I don't think they'll be doing much Christmas decorating as we won't be here to celebrate it.

Our holidays usually start with my brother flying in for this past week, and us basically hanging out all week. Then there's the annual shopping trip at HyVee on Wednesday, and my brother staying up to flip the turkey in the brine bucket on Wednesday night. On Thanksgiving, we start early with preparing, sometime during they day, they call me and ask me to pre heat my oven at some temperature for the twice baked potatoes, and then when everything's ready and downstairs we eat. Afterwards, we generally just hang out watching TV, and then Thanksgiving night we watch Planes, Trains and Automobiles, when most of us fall asleep in the middle of it, waking up at the end to go to our respective beds.
Black Friday starts at about 10AM or so, when we start pulling out the Christmas decorations. We always get the 3-foot tree out to decorate with mostly Santa's my mother has collected, there are a few ornaments that have been on our trees for years including the ceramic treasure chest that I have no idea what the meaning is, and the two paper bells with my brother's and my pictures in them.
We'll probably pull out the stockings and stocking holders to stick on the antique mantle above the marble fireplace, so we can start filling those up.
There's always a few favorite Santa's that come out every year, such as the 3-foot one mom ties to one of the mantle columns and the New Orleans one dad and I picked out for her one year and sent it back. There's also the two wooden Rudolph's someone made for my brother and I that sit in front of the fireplace.
Then my brother flies back to his home sometime on Friday afternoon.
Somewhere in between Thanksgiving and the week of Christmas, me and mom will pull out the other required decorations for the house. Such as the lighted garland for the front porch. Once upon a time, my dad, my brother and I would hang the multi-colored lights up and down every column, all across the top of the porch and across the railings on the bottom. But, after years of having the tiny little plastic hooks break from the bitter cold Iowa weather, we switched to pre-lit garland along the railing with big red bows at the columns.
There's also the garland to go on the staircase with tiny gold bows tied around the posts, plus some for the top of the French doors so everything matches in the entryway.
 Sometimes we'll dig out the 3-foot tree that holds the brass houses. I'm not sure when, but some year, my mom bought all these tiny brass houses that are all different styles of houses and they congregate on a tree on the bench in entryway.
Last year, I tried to convince her to bring out all 500+ Santa's she has so she could figure out which ones she wanted to get rid of to be ready for their move into the condo. We got quite a few out, but not all of them, and she told me she couldn't get rid of any.

The week of Christmas, my brother will fly in with his girlfriend (new tradition lately), and they'll help with meals and getting the last few presents under the tree and balancing the last few stocking stuffers on top of overflowing stockings.
Christmas morning was me being up wickedly early, because no matter how old I am (or where I am, a few years I went home with my ex for Christmas), I never can sleep on Christmas Eve. So, I'll come down early, where my mother will already be up putting caramel rolls in the oven. I will start sorting out presents and deciding who's sitting where in the living room, and wait in anticipation as the rest of the crew gets up for the day.
After everything's opened, there's generally a little clean-up of wrapping paper, and sorting things into boxes to cart up to separate rooms, then my brother will start cooking lunch.

We don't do much after that, mostly hanging out watching movies or playing with toys. Sometime before the 31st, my brother and his girlfriend will fly back home, and the holidays will be over.

This year, we're going to Charleston, SC for Christmas. I have a few snowmen/Christmas decorations out, but I did get rid of quite a few in our garage sales this past summer. I also have less surfaces to decorate them with, and I've never been excited to take off all my regular decorations to bring out the snowmen. I will probably bring out my ceramic Christmas tree (you know the ones with brightly colored plastic pieces in holes cut into it with a lightbulb underneath), kinda like my grandparents had when I was younger. I'm a little wary of the wires underneath, so I won't plug it in, but I might hang a few more snowmen on it.
My parents probably won't get much out, as I said they will be moving into their condo soon, and with us going away, it's probably more work than it's worth to bring out decorations.

The end of an era has arrived. I guess it will be fun to see how we make new traditions next year in their condo

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Venting

On my hodgepodge post I said I missed hanging out with my family. Tonight I was reminded of what I don't miss. My brother's back in town because of Thanksgiving this week, so we went to Red Lobster tonight. After eating we're sitting there and my brother's complaining about how little a raise he got this year. I wanted to say I got a $.25 at one job and maybe a .2% raise at my other job. I love how he's always talking about how much money he makes, I really don't care. And then my dad's talking about how hanging out with family causes people to drink and that's why there's so many domestic violence calls during Thanksgiving. Which I know is true, because I got my degree in criminal justice. And my mother's playing on her phone. We were there for about 2 hours. When I said I had a book to finish tonight, no one cared, because my reading of books is not important to them. Now, if one of them had something to do, you know we'd have gotten out of there. I certainly don't miss my family not caring about my life, or making it seem like I know nothing. My family drives me to drink too, but I don't drink alcohol. So, I'm sitting here with a Mello Yello, which I know will keep me up late tonight, and Fast Five. I was listening to the soundtrack to Hunger Games: Catching Fire a little while ago.  I usually need a little stress killer after hanging out with my family.

Hodgepodge returns

It's Hodgepodge time.

1. Besides U.S. Thanksgiving, it's also National Game and Puzzle Week...what game have you played most recently, and who were you with? Have you worked a puzzle of any kind in the past week?
Personally I love puzzles and games, but it's soo hard to get people to play games with me. The last game I played was probably Bonkers (it's from the 80s, basically you have a game board and pieces that you put on the game board to tell you what to do), I played it with a friend a couple months ago. I'm taking it to Thanksgiving and making people play it there.
I have an app on my laptop that's jigsaw puzzles, I try to do one every day.

2. What is one place you were thankful for this year?
My apartment/house. In May of this year, my parents sold their house (I rented the 3rd floor from them), and I was having a hard time finding apartments in my price range to rent. I contacted the new owners and they said I could rent from them. So, I'm really thankful I didn't have to go through all that fun moving stuff.

3. Take a nap, watch football, go for an after dinner walk, or hit the stores...which ONE is on your must-do list for Thanksgiving day? For those of you playing along who aren't in the US, answer as it relates to any big holiday meal.
I like playing games. Last year I talked my mother and brother into playing a few, and I'm hoping to take a few to my aunt's this year for us to play.
In past years when more people came to our house, we have gone shopping. That's kinda fun. I don't usually get to go shopping with my aunts and the stores were pretty empty.

4. Besides Thanksgiving, what's your favorite home cooked meal?
Christmas. My brother usually cooks it for us and it's always great.

5. What product from an infomercial would you most like to own?
I like the food products. Like the ones where family and friends are sitting in their pj's around a kitchen island and they're making food for them.

6. Christmas shopping? Have you begun? Finished? Will you shop on Black Friday? How do you feel about stores opening on Thanksgiving Day? What percentage of your Christmas shopping is done online?
I'm done with my Christmas shopping. We're going to Charleston over the Christmas holiday, so we decided to not spend as much money and to stick to smaller presents this year.
I've got all my presents wrapped except for my family.
I don't do Black Friday, I never understand camping out to get the deals. Plus, I shop all year round so I don't have to worry about the crunch after Thanksgiving.
I decided last night to alter Altoid's tins for my co-workers, so I haven't started those. I'm not even sure how many I'm making. The Christmas shopping is done, but the Christmas creating is not.

7. What are you most grateful for that adds beauty to your everyday life?
Handmade art. I try collect lots of artwork from other people. I love seeing it in my house.

8. Insert your own random thought here.
The other day I realized how much I'm going to miss going downstairs and hanging out with my family. I loved how when my brother came home, he could just stay with my parents downstairs and I could just come down whenever I wanted. I never had to go very far for Christmas or Thanksgiving. So here's a little excerpt from Trace Adkins song, You're Gonna Miss This that I've been thinking about lately:

You're gonna miss this
You're gonna want this back
You're gonna wish these days hadn't gone by so fast
These Are Some Good Times
So take a good look around
You may not know it now
But you're gonna miss this

It didn't hit me when they were cleaning out the house, or when they actually left, but now that it's that week that my brother's back and we're usually eating supper together or watching movies or whatever, I realize how much I really do miss it.

I was looking for pictures so I could show you the house, but I can't find them, that will have to be another post.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Cozy Box Swap

I signed up to participate in the Cozy Box Swap #cozyboxswap2014 through Lipstick and Tractors.
cozy box swap
My partner was Faith from Life with Mrs. G and the Artist. Here's what I sent her:
 an infinity scarf, a mug and some hot chocolate mixes, a couple books and some chocolate.
It's a cozy swap, so I figured it was required to send a scarf, plus she lives in Indiana, it's cold there too. She said she liked hot chocolate, so I got a mug and a couple hot chocolate mixes. She also said she like Twix and Snickers, so I got her some of those. She also said she liked to read, so I sent her Playing for Pizza by John Grisham and Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold. The Lovely Bones is actually from my personal collection, it's one of my favorites, I hope Faith was ok that it wasn't new.
Here's what I found in my box from Faith:
 And here it is all unwrapped:
A book of Lists, some knee-high socks, an owl ring, some fuzzy slippers, a candle and a card.
I'm intrigued with the book, unfortunately I have a ton of books to read from the library, so I'll probably take it with me on vacation in December. I love the socks and slippers. The owl ring is also very cute. The candle is fresh linen scented, and the card I can use for something else.

Thank you Faith, and Brandi for hosting the swap.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

My Christmas wishlist

Dear Santa,
Here's what I would like for Christmas this year:
  • I would like a job with security, benefits and a salary. I'd really like to stay at the library, I love working there. We both know that if I don't get this soon, I'm going to be applying to every job I see soon.
  • I'd love to have a place to live that I love with laundry on site and I want to stay for a long time, if not forever. I don't know how long I'm able to stay here, but I'd really like to have my own house. A nice two-bedroom with a laundry room would be great.
  • I want more vintage buttons, I can't find any good ones lately. I would love to find a great flea market or button shop when we go to Charleston, but I don't know if that's feasible.
  • I want more knee-high socks. I keep finding holes or that my current ones are wearing out. I don't need anything special but I love the random patterned ones I see at Target. My favorite pink skull and crossbones ones are too worn out to wear this year.
  • I want boots that keep my feet warm, are black, calf-high, and go around my leg muscles. The ones I have now work well enough, but apparently I have too many leg muscles for them to want to zip up properly, plus my toes don't always stay warm.
  • I would love the movie Epic. It's one of those cute kids ones that I feel all warm and fuzzy when I'm watching it.
  • I would love to have a new pair of leather gloves. My current ones no longer have lining in all the fingertips.
  • I would love to spend more time with my friend, Loretta, if you could make it so our schedules mesh so we could hang out more often, that would be great.
  • I would love to have a boyfriend. I'd love to have someone to cuddle with on these cold nights. It would also be nice to have someone that would care if I didn't come home from work.
  • How about some nice chocolate?
  • If I can't have any of those, I can live with gift cards and cash.

Monday, November 03, 2014

12 Days of Christmas Swap

Last year I participated in a 12 Days of Christmas Swap. Basically, you get a partner, you learn about them and you send them 12 gifts they will like. Then you both get to open your presents December 13th-December 24. I love the idea for this, so I signed up again this year.


If this sounds like a fun swap, you should definitely go sign up. Sign-ups will be open until November 10th, all you have to do is click the above button.

Sunday, November 02, 2014

Fun Finds

I haven't been to any garage sales lately. I think, with it being October, I feel the garage sale season is over even if I see them being advertised, plus it's cold and that makes me not want to go outside. Thursday, I did wander to a few stores looking for a cheap Halloween costume, I didn't find one, but I did find some other things to buy.
First stop was Target, I found a jack-o-lantern shirt for Halloween, some monster finger puppets for Christmas gifts, some washi tape for me, a corkscrew for my family Christmas, and some candy for me.
 I forgot Halloween costumes are so much money, so I decided to just buy the t-shirt, which I also thought was a bit much, but it turned out to be on sale, I think it's more fun to include whimsical presents with my Christmas cards, so I buy them when I find them cheap.
Next stop was Walmart, I found a cute reindeer wine bag for my brother and a reindeer ISU ornament for him, and some more washi tape for me, and some glow bracelets for Christmas presents.
 My brother collects reindeer, and he drinks wine.
Next stop, the Dollar Tree, a pocket calendar for me, a cute bobble head doll and a cheap corkscrew.
 I keep forgetting we're getting closer to the end of the year, and I need to have a calendar for next year's schedule. I'm making an Advent calendar for myself, and trying to fill it with cheap, cute stuff. I found this corkscrew after buying the other one, the other one's cuter, I figured I could use it in a swap.
Next was JoAnn's, a pair of cheap stretch gloves and come cute stickers.
 I always pick up a pair of knit stretch gloves every year, JoAnn's always seems to have them for $1, so I can. The stickers were just cute.
Last stop was Hobby Lobby, a pack of Christmas cards, a neat candle, and an octopus Christmas ornament.
Hobby Lobby has had Christmas stuff out since July, and it's already on sale, so I figured I'd take advantage of it and get some cards, and an ornament. The candle was also on sale and I find it's fun to send them in swaps.

After that little spending spree and paying all my bills yesterday, I decided I can't spend any money on me for awhile. I'm not extremely low on money, but after having a certain amount in the bank, I got used to having that much, so when I dropped below that much, I got a little worried. Plus, my rent went up this year, so I'm worried about that. I've decided this is the last year that I can live like this. I will need to find another or a different job that pays me more money next year. And that means I'll have to face certain things I don't want to face, but that's life.
I decided, I can still do the 2 swaps I already joined, and maybe one more. Swaps make me so happy.

Last week

On our way home from Chicago, we stopped off at a Hobby Lobby, but unlike some other stores I feel all Hobby Lobby's have the same stuf...