Wednesday, December 17, 2014

A Lazy December Day

A bowl of delicious Chili, a fire in the fireplace (gas, but whatever), beautiful, colorful lights twinkling on the tree, and watching Christmas movies on tv while piled up under a fuzzy, warm blanket on the couch.

Life just don't get much better than a lazy, December day.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Me & My Aunt's Saturday Adventure

Back in the Summer, on our family vacation, we had visited Colonial Williamsburg. 
As awesome as it was during the Summer, I sure would have liked to been able to visit during the Christmas season. I bet it's pretty fantastic.

Sometime after returning from vacation - believe it or not I was ready for more adventuring - I started looking for events, ideas, and things to do for the Fall/Halloween and Christmas seasons.

One of the things I ran across was a "Victorian Christmas" at Traveler's Rest Historic Site.
It wasn't Colonial Williamsburg, but from what I could gather it was a good old-fashioned Christmas, which is what I was looking for.  

It was on December 13th, and I had already filled in my work schedule calendar for the rest of the year so I knew that J and R both would be working that day.
So I said to myself, I'll ask (my Aunt) if she wants to go.

I did, and she did, so off we went.

Traveler's Rest is the last standing stagecoach inn in Georgia, and is pretty much original from the time Devereaux Jarrett purchased it from James Wyly and doubled it in size back in the 1830's.

The decor consisted of garlands, wreaths, red bows, crocheted angels hanging in the windows, and a Christmas tree decorated with crocheted and handmade ornaments in the parlor.

Musical groups played lovely carols on their instruments. A group of carolers upstairs sang beautiful carols.

Real fires were burning in the fireplaces, and costumed period volunteers told us about the life and times of the Inn and the people of the time.

We were served delicious hot apple cider and homemade teacakes.

After there, we headed over to Toccoa Falls College to check out Toccoa Falls.

Easiest water falls I have ever visited. Usually we have to walk a long ways, hike, or climb up and down a million stairs to reach the water fall.
This one can pretty much be seen from the parking lot. To get closer, you can go through the Welcome center, pay a dollar or two, and walk not very far at all - probably not even the length of a Mall - to get to the Falls.

I'm not sure what it is about waterfalls, but I sure do like them.

After there we ate at a restaurant called Bell's Drive-in.  It was delicious, and the waitress was attentive and friendly and awesome.
It's not one of my skills, but I love when people can talk to you like they've known you your whole life and consider you a good friend.

After eating, we headed along the Unicoi Turnpike and stopped in by the Old Sautee Store in the Sautee-Nacoochee Valley.

The Old Sautee Store is sooo freaking neat.
The front part of the store has been left as the original old general store, with shelves of vintage groceries and goods.

The new part of the store was added to the back, and they carry all things Country and Vintage-Inspired.

We tasted some delicious Farmer's Cheese on Crispbread and Ginger Cookies, (I wouldn't have thought to eat cheese on ginger cookies, but it was tasty) with a sample of hot Grogg to drink.

I tell ya what, I'm not that adventurous when it comes to trying food and drink, and I sure was concerned about tasting something called "Grogg" because that sounded just nasty.

I was afraid it was some sort of coffee, but it wasn't.The lady said it was made of grapes and spices, so I braved it and gave it a sip, and Yum!

 I'm afraid I can't describe it any other than that.  Not being one of those Food Network folks that can taste each individual flavor of something, all I know is, overall, it was pretty tasty!

Love the National Biscuit Company display.

My Grannie used to work at the National Biscuit Company when she was young, having left her small town to go work in the big city, before she was married and had kids....
You know, before it was NA-BIS-CO.

Next we ventured on over towards Helen, Georgia.

We stopped in at Nora Mill Granary to check out all things stone-ground, plus all the rest of the awesome offerings: jellies, jams and all sorts of canned goods, enamel-ware, cast iron, vintage-inspired kitchen decor, old-fashion candies, etc.

The entire City of Helen is a re-creation of a German Alpine town (don't ask me, I don't know, it's been that way ever since I can remember).

Anyway, with the City building codes, the Chattahoochee River running through the middle of town, beer (even back in the days when most small towns were Dry), brats, entertainment and shopping,  Helen is a real tourist destination, and they make the most of it.

So the whole town is decorated and lit up beautifully for Christmas.

It was pretty crowded, plus getting pretty late, so we mostly rode through to see the lights, but didn't plan to get out and shop anywhere.

Then I saw Betty's Country Store, which wouldn't have been that eye-catching, except the sign said IGA on it.

We have an IGA grocery here in my town, and it doesn't look anything like Betty's, but they do carry a particular candy I wanted but was out of stock last time I checked for it, so we stopped in at Betty's to check and see if they had any.

They did gosh, this store! This grocery store!

Guess I'm a country bumpkin, but this store was amazing to me!
If I ever open a grocery store, it'll be just like this one! (lol, I'm mostly likely never going to open a grocery store.)

I don't have good words to describe it, but it's like a modern grocery store, mixed with an old grocery store, mixed with an old General Store. Wooden shelving, antique fixtures, vintage grocery store decor.

The check out lines are in sort of an enclosed area, and resemble a Old General store, with the shelved goods behind the cashier.

Wish I could have gotten better pictures of the place, but I couldn't get my camera to see what I was seeing.

Anyway, I loved it.

This outing was something new for us.
Usually I plan outings like this with J and the boys.
That's not to say I haven't gone off with my Aunt - out to eat, or to the big Dixie Highway Yard Sale one year, to visit (her Aunt and Uncle, my Great Aunt and Uncle) in Alabama, or to Florida to visit (her sister, my mother) and (my sister, her niece).
But we haven't done anything like this before, just us, off on a jaunt.
I really enjoyed it.

I did feel kindly bad that we went and J and the boys didn't/couldn't go.
They love to adventure, too.

I'll just have to plan something for us to do, I guess! 

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

911 Dispatcher Ornaments, Vol. 2014

So last year I was looking for a little prezzie for my son, R's, co-workers at 911 Dispatch.
I ended up coming up with these Snow(wo)men Ornament Ball dispatchers.

They were well received. The other day he mentioned that his co-workers were saying as how they loved their little ornaments from last year, and had taken pictures to show him of them hanging on their trees.

I said to him, "Uhhhh, you know I'm not going to be able to do anything like that again this year, right?"
I had no ideas - zip, zilch, nada - for any other kind of specialized 911/dispatcher ornament.

And I didn't, until, I did.
I was doing whatever it was I was doing...which is generally never one particular thing. I start doing one thing, which turns into another thing, which turns into something else.
However it came about, in the end, I had this idea:

Everyone knows about cinnamon-applesauce ornaments. Pretty much everyone made them in school. They smell soooo good.

I searched for cinnamon-applesauce-ornament recipes, and got a ton of different ones.
I decided to start out using 1 cup of cinnamon, 1 cup of applesauce, and 2 tablespoons of white glue.
My mixture was too dry, so I added another tablespoon-glallup of applesauce.

Mixed the cinnamon, applesauce and glue in a bowl. Used a spoon at first, but when it became a 'dough' I ended up having to use my hands and knead it.

Which is why there's no picture of me rolling and cutting the gingerbread men out.

I put the gingerbread men ornaments on wire racks on a cookie sheet and put them in the oven on 200* for an hour. Then I flipped them over and let them dry for another hour.

*If you want to make holes in the ornaments for a hanging ribbon, use a toothpick or straw while they're still wet. I decided to just glue a loop on the backside.

I "iced" it with puffy paint, and hot glued the "head set" on.

For the head set I used some miniature wire candy canes and mini pom-poms I had in my craft stash.

(Not pictured: I hot glued a red elastic-rope loop on the back side of the head for hanging.)

Friday, November 28, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thanks to some (completely unnecessary) family drama, I almost canceled Thanksgiving this year.

In addition to the family drama, I didn't know if J and/or R would end up having to work.
Being a 25 year veteran fire wife, the work schedule rarely slows me down. Typically we'd carry on without J, or R even - as long as I knew there wasn't any chance of them being present, period.

But with R having started his new job with a non-emergency transport ambulance service, he's still doing training rides, whenever they schedule him in. Which he hadn't been finding out what days those would be until about the day before.
Even if he had to work Thanksgiving, no big deal, we're used to missing someone or another for work, but it's the no-set-schedule that stressed me.
Which is kind of a weird thing because their patients are dialysis patients, with appointments. 

He goes to work at 911, I know he's going to be there 12 hours.
He goes to work on the ambulance, he may be back in 4 hours, or 7, or who knows. Depends on how many patients had appointments that day, or how many cancelled, or whatever.
So he could have been gone all day, or he could have been home by lunchtime, and end up spending Thanksgiving at home alone if we'd gone out of town to my Aunt's.

I don't mind them having to work on a Holiday, but it freaks me out if I think they would end up spending a Holiday at home alone. (They probably would be fine, though.)

On top of that, my oldest said he and his fiancee weren't going to my Aunt's house. (Can't blame him, my Aunt treated him pretty harsh last year, calling him out and humiliating him in front of the family about his long-term lack of employment. There's a time and place, and that wasn't it.)

And then with the family drama, I said, That's it, stick a fork in me, I am done.
Stamp big, red CX'd over Thanksgiving, I'm skipping it.

Somehow, I'm still not entirely sure how happened, I may or may not have asked my oldest son if they had other plans, or if I were to decide to cook something, would they want to come up.

So, it may have only been me, them, and K, but I fixed Thanksgiving dinner.
Roasted a turkey, and made green bean casserole, sweet potato souffle, potato salad, deviled eggs,  macaroni & cheese, cranberry sauce, biscuits, and I made a from-scratch pecan pie, using our own pecans. Yum!
(No, no dressing (stuffing), I don't know how to make it...which I could have looked up a recipe online like I did the pecan pie, but I didn't particularly care if we had it or not, and apparently no one else noticed it was missing. Their plates were full as it was.)

Turned out neither J or R had to work, so the whole (immediate) family was together, and we all sat at the new (not new) bigger kitchen table in the new (not new) kitchen.

Then there was the issue of Christmas Tree day. The day the six of us get together, generally approximately 12 days before Christmas give or take, and go to the Christmas tree farm to cut down our tree, then eat out, or come home and I cook something while they set up and decorate the tree, and snack on their favorite Christmas-time treats like white-chocolate-dipped-oreos, chocolate-covered-pretzels, chocolate-oatmeal-peanut-butter-no-bake-cookies, rice krispy treats, etc.

When I sat down with my calendar 3, 4 months ago and entered J and R's work schedules so I could plan days for us to go on outings and such, December 6th was the ONLY day they had off together that R wouldn't be sleeping from having worked the night before, until Dec 20th. Which would be way too late to bother with putting up a tree.

J texted me about two weeks ago to ask what was on the calendar for Dec. 6th and I said, Christmas tree day, so whatever it is, NO. (Someone wanted to swap a shift.)

Now R comes in and tells me the next days he's scheduled to work on the ambulance are Dec. 2nd and maybe the 6th.
I said, Did you tell them that's Christmas Tree Day?!?!?!?!".

Ummmm....noooo, Moooom.

Of course not. It's only his second week on the job. They're being very good to let him work his training around his days when he has to work nights at 911 (he's putting in his 2-weeks at 911 when he gets released from training), I wouldn't really have expected him to tell them he had something better to do.

I just had to adapt, and figure out something else.

The something else was, I had picked up a fake tree from Freecycle earlier in the year, Spring or Summer, can't recall exactly. 

I had planned to fix it up (the people said the lights didn't work and they didn't want to mess with them) and pass it along to someone else.
But I hadn't messed with it, and it was sitting in it's container out on the front porch, so I had the boys drag it in, set it up, and see how awful it was.

Turned out, it wasn't awful at all.
Some of it's lights didn't work, but we just left those unplugged and added our own lights.

I had no plans to put up a Christmas tree on Thanksgiving, so I hadn't gotten any of the Christmas ornaments or decor down from the attic. I went up and grabbed one tub of stuff, so it still needs some added to it....And the top isn't stout enough to hold my lighted Star, which made me sad, but I remembered I had this Angel I had made in Vacation Bible School about (ticking on fingers) 19, 20 years ago maybe.

So, we had Thanksgiving and Christmas tree day all in one, and it was good! 

Good food, laughter, getting along. I don't know why everyone can't be like that.
It's way better to just enjoy yourself than to always be looking for offense, or getting butthurt over stupid shit. 

(I started my Christmas shopping a little while ago, and have had gifts piling up in the corner of my room. Then the huge box with J's snake boots came today and I didn't have room to stash those, so I just wrapped them and all the other gifts I already had and stuck them under the tree.

This is so crazy! I've never had a tree up before about the second week of December, much less before December 1st, much less Thanksgiving, not to mention gifts wrapped and put under it!

I feel like I've accelerated time, it's way later than it is, and I'm way behind on cleaning away the Fall decor and putting out the Christmas decor!)

I think the moral of the story is: Relax. Everything will be ohh-kay.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Rag Balls

Despite these past couple of days being record cold temps, I've perked up a bit and got rid of (most of) the grumps. 

Usually when it's cold I don't like to do anything but sit in my chair next to my heater with my kindle and stay warm. But I've actually been up doing things this week, I was even out sweeping the carport and moving some things out to, and around on the carport and back porch today. Weird!

I was also deciding on whether to keep or get rid of some things around here.

One of the things was this old 80's-looking bed skirt that I acquired in a batch of hand-me-alongs at some time or another.

It wasn't in good shape. The hem was torn out so the edges were mostly frayed.

There was a tear between the skirt and the....uhh, not sure what the other part is called.

I could have hemmed it and sewed the tear back together, but I wouldn't have used it, and I don't know anyone that would have used it.

So, I decided to turn it into Rag Balls.

I cut/tore the flowery skirt part from the thin white, muslin? material. The thin, white material reminds me of an old fashioned under garment of some sort, chemise?

I ended up with a long, approx 12 inch wide strip of fabric.

Starting at one end, I cut about an inch or so, then started tearing the rest of the way with my hands to the other end, stopping about a half inch from the end, so I didn't tear the strip completely off.

At the other end, I went over about an inch and cut another notch, then tore that strip all the way back down to the other end, but stopping before I tore the strip off.

When done, I ended up with a long strip of fabric about an inch wide. No clue how long....but really long.

Which I rolled up into balls while catching up on DVR's epiodes of Sons of Anarchy.

Guess I'll list them on Etsy and forget about them, and maybe one day I'll be surprised like I was when my other ones sold.

Otherwise, maybe I'll hang on to them for use as ropes and bandages during the zombie apocalypse.

Haha! joking, but seriously, I realized they could be used like twine to tie up tomato plants to stakes or any other instance you might use twine or a thinner rope, you could use fabric yarn. It's pretty darn sturdy.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Still Whiny

Still cold, and now grumpy on account of there's things that have ended up in the livingroom over the past year that needs to go, but there's no place for it to go.

And, I had big plans to decorate my whole new diningroom for Christmas, not just the mantel, but we don't have a diningroom for me to decorate because...
A whole list of reasons.
- I can't get rid of the electric stove until I can get my gas oven door seal replaced,
- Can't (or more like, don't really want to) move the big fridge until we get the new kitchen flooring done,
- Haven't worked on the new kitchen floor, because...
- We may or may not need to have someone come and jack up and level the front of the house.
- I still haven't sorted through all the boxes of books stacked in the (future) diningroom floor,
- I don't want to get rid of, but don't know what to do with my parents' old console stereo that is currently living in the (future) diningroom. There's no room for it in the livingroom, and it's too heavy to move upstairs.

I had a big plan to clean out half of the storage room off the carport and make it into a Hunting/Sports closet/area/room for all J's hunting and fishing gear. Saw some neat ideas on Pinterest.
It's another, "I can't do this until I do that" fail.

In the meantime, the hunting gear lives in the storm shelter...the closet under the stairs. So at the moment, J has everything dragged out and spread all around in the livingroom.

My birthday is tomorrow.
(And my 25th wedding anniversary, although I don't really *celebrate* that anymore.)
So my Aunt calls me up to ask me what I have planned for my birthday.
Nothing, because J and R has to work, and even if they didn't, probably still nothing.
I invited her up and told her I'd cook some homemade chicken & dumplins, or lasagna.

Instead, she wants me to come to her house, and says she'll cook chili for me.

Here's the thing.
I like staying at home.
I don't like eating.

I'm not a foodie, I don't really like food too much, and mostly eat to survive.
Of the foods I do like, chicken & dumplins would be near or at the top of the list.

Lasagna is okay, but mostly it's a sentimental thing. Mom used to only ever cook lasagna for our birthdays. It was The Birthday Meal. Never any other time of the year.

So, it's MY birthday, but I have to leave my house, to go eat chili, which I eat about twice a week anyway because it's quick and easy to fix, and I tend to fix a lot of anything that's quick and easy.

Grump, grump, grump, grump.

Okay, well, here's a thing.

I belong to a local Auction house group on Facebook. The lady posts things for auction about twice a week.
Mostly I don't play because - hello, don't need more stuff - and also it seems like there are people on there who just have to win. They bid on so many things, surely they don't really want it all. But they come along near the end of the auction and outbid everyone by 50¢.

Anyway. So the other night the auctions were coming to an end, and there were several items that didn't have any bids. I thought, "that's kindly odd, surely that's worth at least a dollar" about some of the items.
There was a brown metal folding chair with a folding desk thing - the chair alone was worth more than a dollar - and a pretty large group of Stuff: Christmas ornaments, a toy stove, some books, baskets...I can't remember what all.  A lamp, and a grill, I can't remember what else. There were a few things.

I thought, maybe the things just needed moved back to the top so they could be seen. So I bid on some things...things I thought were worth at least a dollar, in case I was wrong and ended up stuck with the things. There was still some other stuff that I didn't want to risk ended up having to buy.

Sure enough, most everything I bid on, I quickly got outbid on.
Except this grill.

It was listed as a Vortex Charcoal grill.
Nothing else, size or anything. It looked like J's small tabletop charcoal grill.

When the auction ended and no one outbid me, I was like, "ohhhh noooo, what did I dooo?". What did the others know, that I didn't know? Obviously there's something wrong, that no one thought a grill was worth any more than a dollar.

I went back and looked at the picture and thought I knew what was the problem, it didn't look to have a lid.
Ah well, I said to myself, J's always tossing out grills because the bottoms burn/rust out and get holes eventually, but the lids are always in good shape. We'll just keep this one and when the tabletop grill we already own goes bad, he can use the lid with this one.

Since he was in the area anyway, and had a couple of hours between leaving the firehouse and needing to be at the ambulance station, I texted and asked him to go by and pay for/pick up the grill.

He called me later and was all, It was only a dollar? It's a nice grill! Brand new!
I was like, did it have a lid?
He said, Yeah it has a lid!

The lid was upside down inside the grill, with the feet and handles - and, um, other stuff, as I was to discover - inside, the racks on top, and taped all together with packaging tape.

I took it apart to check it out, and found out it's really a gas grill, not a charcoal grill!

And bonus! Auction winners that showed up first thing the next morning, with cash, to pick up their item got a goody bag.

It had some chocolate balls, and some awesome Christmas knick-knacks: a ceramic Santa boot, metal/glass angel, and a (porcelain/china/glass?) bell marked "JAPAN", saying "With love at Christmas". 

Okay. I'm getting up from here and going to do something, even if it's just one thing.
Something is better than nothing.
Sitting here whining and complaining sure isn't getting anything done.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Hello? Complaint Department?

I'm cold. Whiny-azz cold. I live in Georgia, not Whizconsin...please turn the heat back up.

I used to say, Well, this chilly weather is okay, it puts me in the Christmas spirit.
I take it back. I don't feel the Christmas spirit, all I feel is cold. And whiny.

I was so cold earlier I was tongue-tied and said, "it's 38 disease out here". 
And my brain is frozen.
I needed to make an appointment with Kev's foot doctor (Podiatrist), Dr. LaPointe.  But I got all messed up and called him "Dr. LaFoote". Argh!

(Yes, I know it's colder Up North. Everyone has my permission to be whiny, too.)
(Except Floridians. They should be thanking the stars.)

I just discovered the small hole in the corner of the pocket of the jeans I've been wearing all day has turned into a large hole.
Good thing I'm wearing fleece leggings under them so I didn't moon people.
But dang, I don't have that many pair of jeans that are comfortable and I like.

I'm put out with the Mall. It's not Christmas decorated enough.

Where are the door wreaths? The garland? Ribbons, bows, giant ornaments? Streetlamp swag?

Oh, there's one wreath. Woo. Hoo. Hope they didn't put their selves out too much hanging all that wreath. My bad, all maybe 6 wreaths all the way around the place.

Food court. Anyone taking a lunch break from all that Holiday shopping?
Holiday? I don't think there's a Holiday here?

Oh, wait, look real hard, someone went to a lot  of trouble setting out a couple of Poinsettias.

Really, Mall Management?

Maybe I'm wrong, but, if I own a Mall, and I want to lease my spaces to businesses, seems like I need to do my part to help get customers (shoppers) in to the place, and especially at this time of the year, in the mood to spend $$$$$$ in my customers (the lessees) stores, so that they (my lessees) can survive and be able to pay the rent. No?

Lame Lane.

 To be fair, they have a Visit Santa box, (even if it is the same Santa box they've had for the past I don't remember how many years)

And a stage with some gift wrapped presents. In the past, kid groups, school choirs, I guess, have sang Christmas Carols here.
Back when the Mall was better. More inviting. Had a lovely fountain, a carousel, nice Christmas decorations. Even a Mall gift-wrap place.

But I want to see Malls more like this:

And this,

And this,

And all of these.

I went to look in My Pictures for the Hamilton Place Mall in Chattanooga we visited a couple years ago....pretty sure it was just, like, the year before last.

I couldn't find the pictures! Nor of the Enchanted Garden Lights at Rock City we visited at the same time!
Freaking out! Where are my pictures? Had I lost them between changing computers?!

Turns out, it wasn't the year before last when we made a family Christmas trip to Hamilton Mall/Rock City....
It was five freaking years ago!

Five! Years! That's absolutely crazy. I remember it like it was recent.
Five years ago, Kev was still only in 10th grade in school. He's been graduated for...a long time now.

Time, flying by so fast, stahp it!