Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Winter Crafts

One of my New Year's resolutions way back in January was to do more craft projects. And over the year I have done a few, but one I'd been wanting to do just never happened until we went to the cabin. My idea was to make a redwork tea towel of all our trips so I took these tea towels and some red embroidery floss and finally finished one. I had sketched them out and this one seemed easiest, so here is Mexico 2007. Ta Da!
We drove to Mulege in Baja Mexico and saw lots of cactus amongst the hills, and lots of shells at the beach so those are all the things I put in the design. Below you see my rendition of a jumping cholla cactus. I'm quite happy with the first one and have several others sketched out. I'll post photos as I finish them.

Another project that I finished was this SNUGGLE banner. When I found out about the cabin visions of red plaid started spinning in my head, so I got a few sheets of red plaid scrapbook paper and cut them into triangles. Then I glued them onto the stiffer white paper and cut out the letters. Unfortunately I used the wrong glue for the white glitter and they came out yellow! Awk! I tried to make them white again, but they were a disaster so I threw them out. So into my craft bag went the half-finished banner, some extra card, new white glue and the glitter. And on Christmas Eve there I was making new letters and finishing the banner. I'm glad I didn't give up and took supplies to finish it there.

And look, after seeing the banner day after day, Teen2 took its advice and snuggled up for a nap one afternoon. Under red plaid. Too cute.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Cozy Cabin

I'm going to sound like an advertisement for Sorensen's Resort, but I've just got to show you how cute their cabins are. We were in Ponderosa. It's a two room cabin that sleeps four people.
Here is the front of the cabin. It has a covered porch with room for your ice chest and the firewood that is replenished daily by the management.

Inside is a picture and explanation of the ponderosa pine.
Here is the bedroom side; two double beds, a dresser, a recliner, the wood stove, and a closet and bathroom (out of the picture to the right).
Here is the kitchen side; windows on three sides, table and four chairs, frige, sink, storage and range.

To make our cabin a little homier, I brought this "SNUGGLE" banner, Christmas dishes, red plaid table linens, and some woodsy candles.

But I didn't have to do a THING to improve the views. I love this little cabin.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Christmas in the Snow

We are back from the cabin in the snow and I must say we had fun, fun, fun!We stayed at Sorensen's Resort on Hwy 88 and it was perfect. We had snow, good food, a cozy cabin, lots of red plaid, lots of friendly "neighbors", and plenty of time to rest, relax, and recharge our batteries.

We left home Christmas Eve around 10:30am and drove up to about 3500' before we saw any snow, but a storm was predicted so we expected the worst. And as conditions deteriorated we just slowed to 30 mph and allowed the car to take care of us. I'm not a car nut (I'll leave that to the Lord of the Manor) but I've gained a new respect for our little car. It has all wheel drive and a stability control system that constantly adjusts to the changing conditions. We didn't put it in four wheel drive, and we didn't install chains, but it performed beautifully on those snowy and icy roads.

We arrived at the resort about 3:30 and got settled in. The Lord of the Manor made a fire in the little cast iron stove, and all night long the storm howled around the cabin.
We awoke on Christmas morning to a winter wonderland and no water, but we scooped up the fresh clean snow and melted it on the gas stove to make coffee and tea. Then we had Eggs Benedict for breakfast, opened presents, and went out to play in the snow. Our kitchen windows overlooked the little sledding hill, so I was able to watch the action even whilst making the apple pie.

We also went down to the parking lot to look at the cars. It had snowed quite a bit, but we weren't going anywhere, so it didn't matter to us. That's our car there.

Eventually we got the roast in the oven and sat down to Christmas dinner while the snow continued to fall and this cooled near the window sill.

This is typical scenery for the Hope Valley; it's just so pretty! And apparently it's popular around the world, as we had "neighbors" from France, Germany, and England. I'll show more photos later, but for now I'll leave you with this teaser.

Posted by Laura from Amongst The Oaks.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Christmas in the Country

We had a lovely day at my sister's house in the country. One of my favorite scenes was little cousin feeding the horses. He started with a few stems of hay, then went to handfuls of hay, then graduated to armfuls of hay, leaving a trail from the barn to then fence every time. It was so cute.

The older cousins had a great time wrestling on the sofa, laughing and just generally being teenagers.

And look, a special treat! Santa was there and I got my girls to pose with him. I've tried to get a picture of them with Santa from the time they were tiny, but lately they have been a little uncooperative about it. Maybe they are embarrassed to stand in line at the Mall with all the little kids? Anyway, with this Santa there was no complaining. They happily hopped on his chair and I got a great photo to add to my collection.
We are going up to the hills tomorrow to spend Christmas in a rustic cabin in the snow. This is the special new tradition that the Lord of the Manor arranged and I'm delighted! I'm looking forward to peace and quiet and the special magic that snow creates. It looks like Christmas Day will be stormy, so we'll snuggle up inside, play games, drink cocoa, listen to music, cook dinner, and enjoy each other's company. Happy Christmas to all of you from Amongst The Oaks, temporarily amongst the snow.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Old Family Photo Gifts

I had some reprints of ancestors made for my siblings. This morning (last minute 'cause the party is today) I started wrapping them. I had no idea what to use, so I scrambled around in the wrapping paper box, found this black and white toile and some black ribbon, and made these envelopes to hold the photos.

Then I made little tags to hold the ribbon down and the Lord of the Manor suggested sealing wax, so I found that and Voila! they're done. Now I've got to run. The Lord of the Manor has loaded the car, Teen1 and Teen2 are ready, and it's time to hurry off to my sister's house.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

The Smoke It Encircled His Head Like A Wreath

Here's a little Santa I found at Goodwill for $2. It was still in the box and had never been used, but I recognized what it was right away. And these kind of things amuse me so I snatched it up. I guess we sort of collect Santas (who doesn't?) so he stands next to a few others on the Library mantle.

But what makes him special is that he can smoke a pipe! You take a little incense cone, light it and stick it under his robe (sorry Santa) and the smoke comes out his mouth. Isn't it just too cute?

We are going to my family's Christmas gathering tomorrow. I need to get busy since I'm bringing pies and chutney for the ham. So today we will be grocery shopping, cooking, and smoking our pipes here Amongst The Oaks.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Guard Girl Gifts

I wanted to give my Guard Girls a little gift for Christmas. I've spent the last three years going to the band reviews with these girls and they are all so nice and such fun. I just wanted to do something nice for them. So I got this glittery red felt and cut it into 30 hearts. Then I used fabric paint to draw on a big "L" for Lincoln High School. Luckily the school color is red so it's Christmasy too. Then I cut 30 pieces of red ribbon for the hangers and I started sewing them together. There is just something so relaxing about sitting and stitching this blanket stitch again and again.
When I get halfway around I stuff in a little cotton and some lavender, finish sewing and Voila! a heart sachet. Or Christmas ornament. But really, their guard bags could use a little freshness so I'm hoping they use them as sachets. (You know something like that when you've been on the bus with them for hours and hours.)
So that's what's keeping me busy here Amongst The Oaks. That and dreaming of a white Christmas, which never happens here in Central California. It has been cold and a storm came through the mountains, but I don't think the snow will come this low, but I can dream, can't I?

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Winter Formal

Tonight is a momentous occasion for my little girls. They went to their first "formal" dance. It was pretty hectic around here from 3:00 to 6:00 with four girls getting ready together. We had some last minute alterations, and lots of squealing, but they finally got it together and they looked fine. I just keep thinking how different things are today from when I was in high school.

Back when dinosaurs roamed the earth and the Lord of the Manor and I were in high school, a boy would ask a girl he liked to go to the dance. If she liked him, she'd accept and then plan her hair, make-up, dress, and accessories weeks in advance. They would go to dinner, then the dance, and maybe he'd kiss her afterwards and then they'd be "dating".
But with this group, I can't even keep score! It seems purple dress was asked by tuxedo guy, but he really likes silver dress. Then blue dress liked blue tie guy, but it seems the fire has cooled, but they are still going to the dance together. Now gray tie guy likes. . . heck, I can't remember now, but he's standing next to green dress. Oh, and purple dress likes a guy who's not even going to the dance. . . See what I mean? It's crazy!
So, I'm all confused about who likes who and it doesn't really matter. But see these two here? With these two there's no confusion. I love them both, right up to the moon and back. Just like the Big Nutbrown Hare.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Tule Fog

It's tule fog season here Amongst The Oaks. It happens every winter. You'd think I'd be used to it, but I don't like it. Above is a picture of the Central Valley of California filled with fog. I'm down there waving at you. It looks like cotton from above, but down below it's all gray.

The fog is so damp and depressing. I never seem to get warm when it's foggy. The damp just cuts right through my clothes and I'm cold, cold, cold. A walk always seems to help. Not only does it warm me up, it also cheers me up. I took these photos on my walk the other day. The creek looks mysterious in the fog, but I found the drops of water suspended on things to be more interesting.
Here's a spider web.

And some blades of grass.

That's it from here Amongst the foggy Oaks. I hope your day is sunny.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

See's Candies

Recognize this box? "I do, I do!" And if you are from the West Coast of the US, you might also recognize it as See's Candies famous red Christmas box. We were given this box by our insurance salesman. He gives us one every year. In fact, giving See's Candies has been a tradition around here for many years.

See's Candies was started in Los Angeles in the 1920s by a Canadian man. His mother, Mary See, helped with some of the initial recipes, and her picture is still on every box. See's prides itself on fresh, unique, preservative-free candy. Each tidy little shop is still decorated as they were in the 1930s; spotless white with black accents.

We have a stand-alone shop in our town. It's been there for at least 40 years that I know of. You can buy prepackaged assortments, or you can select your favorites from behind the glass. And you always get a free sample before you leave. Tell me, who gives away free samples now days?

I used to work right next door to this shop. Most afternoons one of us would suggest a little pick-me-up, so we'd scrape together our change, and one of us would walk across the parking lot to select a few of our favorites. It was heaven.
So here's what is in the assorted chocolates box. Lovely, aren't they?
I actually prefer the nuts and chews assortment, but I'll choke these down somehow.


See's Candies, a happy habit.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Christmas Card

Here is our front door and, Oh look, there's our Christmas card tucked into the wreath on the front door. Let's get closer and check it out. I don't know how I come up with these ideas, but this year we are all wearing Santa hats and peeking out the door of "Santa's Workshop". That's Santa The Lord of the Manor at the top, then me, then Teen2, then Teen1. Click to see Teen2's ears up close. Aren't we silly?

I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas season full of delightful traditions and maybe some silly new ones too. Happy Christmas from Amongst The Oaks.