Bread, a Quilt, and my Mom

Yesterday I tried something new.  That being baking bread not in a loaf pan but instead in a circular artisan style, hoping to create a bread bowl for spinach dip for today's last Christmas gathering with my dad's whole family. 
After a quick conference at the grocery store with their bread baker about parchment paper and using heat to make it rise high, I came home to give it a whirl as omelettes were being made on the other side of the kitchen.  I told you it was a just on this side of fabulous kind of Saturday. 
While the bread was rising by the fire, Christmas decorations came down which is not nearly as fun as putting them up.  Although I do find serious satisfaction in getting my house back in order.  I don't think it's a coincidence we all start the new year with clean houses; someday I will share my thoughts about how a cluttered environment makes for a cluttered mind, but that's not today. 
Today I'm talking about bread.  And how it actually did what it was supposed to do! 
The spinach dip is now made, the bread is cut into a bowl, and I'm ready for the family gathering this afternoon. 
Every year, we have a women's gift exchange and a men's gift exchange and we fight over the presents.  Mostly because it's fun to mock fight.  Partly because sometimes we really want something.  My mom makes a quilt every year, which is always a hot item.  This year she has been struggling with her health a bit since Thanksgiving (more on that later too).  Momma Debi wasn't sure if she'd get one made. 
The day after Christmas, which let's remember was Wednesday, my dad told her he would help and they would get one done.  Help he did and my mom worked her magic to create yet another beautiful quilt.  In four days. 
Last night my family all came over to my house for cheese, wine, and cards. 
We played International Rummy and my dad lost which always makes things interesting.  But it's part of his charm, as is supporting my mom and helping her with quilts.  You have to love him for both. 
While we played and Billy was exposed to the competitiveness for the first time, my mom sat next to me in my flower chair and finished hand stitching the binding. 
My mom is a saint.  She would never say how she doesn't feel well right now and how she finished that quilt despite of it, but I can say she is a wonder.  Because she is. 
And please add Momma Debi to your thoughts and say some extra prayers for her as we head into January with some important appointments and hopefully some not scary news.  For now, we will celebrate Christmas one more time today and spend time together.  And the quilt will be cherished by who ever's hands it lands in.   


Saturday! Saturday!

The sun is shining over here and I'm working on a fabulous little Saturday.  Yes, the sun is shining but it is more than cold cold.  So deceiving, like the toys from the Life cereal boxes of my childhood. 
Bread is baking and house is cleaning and I was cooked an omelet this morning which was pretty much on this side of perfection. A good Saturday always starts with a swiss cheese and peppers omelet with a side of "Will you drop me off at the door of Hobby Lobby so I can get more yarn? Because the thought of walking across the parking lot is too unbearable."  Hi my name is Amy and I'm a cold weenie.   

Let's just say I now have more yarn in my basket and I was dropped off at the door.  And the snow is sparkly. 
Which happens to be my favorite thing. 
A serious case of random look something shiny is happening right now but happiness is flowing straight out of me as I sit here going through my this year's Christmas captures and eating green apples with gritty peanut butter, the kind you have to stir because it's the best.  I'll spare you the details about how it's necessary to use a butter knife to spread the peanut butter just so evenly on each slice.  As with everything else in my life, it's a process.  I can make anything a tradition.  I really can.   


While at the Doctor

Yesterday I went to the doctor.  And was told, "The doctor is running a bit late; his surgery went long.  Have a seat and we'll call for you." 
So sit I did.  Pulling out my iPhone to tinker, only to watch my screen go black and give me the white swirl of dying.  Ever since the dropping in the water and baking scenario, my phone does this.  It just up and dies until I plug it in again. 
So sit I did.  Without technology. 
With the uncertainty of not knowing how long I'd be waiting. 
I reached into my purse and found my little notebook and a pen.  A good pen.  Please tell me you know there are good pens and bad pens.  This pen was from the HoDo in Fargo.  If for anything, go there for a pen. 
I started writing, scribbling out a story about my new coffee pot from Christmas present of Tuesday.  About how it's a fancy number, one which keeps the coffee up in a reservoir until you hold down the switch to fill your cup; one cup at a time but from an entire brewed pot, the stroke of coffee genius.  About how I tackled setting the rather large contraption up Wednesday morning, manual in hand while soaking the mineral filter.  About how the cord was rather short, so short the wall could not be reached.  About how I pulled and pulled on the cord and could not get it longer.  About how I read in the manual about the cord, read the words, "The cord is short as to not cause entanglement.  An extension cord might be needed."  About how I made a phone call after extension cord was plugged in and first pot was brewed, "This might be the best coffee maker ever!  But it's really weird in that it has this short little cord and I know you are going to say to pull it out but I read in the manual and it's a safety thing and it even says right in there an extension cord might have to be used." 
About how once at my house later, Billy inspected the new coffee pot with the extension cord and listened to me wonder where I was going to find a short black one to use instead of the long white one adorning my counter. 
About how he proceeded to pull the cord out and said, "Oh my little blonde Norwegian."  With a gleam in his eye.  Then about how we laughed so hard.  "I even read the manual!"  Laughed so hard. 
Yes I wrote that little story in my notebook while waiting for the doctor.   
After two hours, the nurse did my beginning stuff.  Weight, blood pressure, pulse, and the questionaire about are you sad and what is your religion of preference.  I'm not joking, they now ask you what your religion of preference is.  I said, "Lutheran.  I'm a Lutheran.  Does that matter?" 
My blood pressure was low low as was my pulse and the sweet nurse said, "You're healthy.  Really healthy."  And all that while I was fixated on the fact the scale said I was six pounds heavier than the last time I was at the doctor.  Fixated. 
So when she said you're healthy, really healthy, it shuddered my inside a bit.  Because I struggle with perfection and was mentally figuring how many days it would take of running and eating not Christmas style to be back to where I was before the holidays.   
But my goodness, I need to cut some slack now and then.  Because I'm healthy.  Really healthy.  Perfection is never achieved and a Christmas cookie on Christmas is freaking allowed.  This little blonde Norwegian is working on lots of things.  Things like reading manuals and letting myself live without the worry I will end up back where I was.  Because I won't.  However, I can't guarantee I won't ever do things like forget my car has a neutral or think a two inch cord on a coffee pot is normal.  That's part of my charm. 



Christmas morning I woke, quietly gathered my things so not to wake those still waiting on Santa, gave hugs with the promise of meeting again in the afternoon, and while still wearing my Christmas jammers, started off in the early darkness.  Early so I could drive to the farm to have brunch with my family, something I would not miss. 
After about an hour and a half of driving and thinking, the sun started coming up to my right while "Winter Song" was playing through Pandora.  Tears formed in my eyes.  I blinked a few times but they kept coming, falling down my cheeks. 
I pulled over to a gravel road. 
I knew I needed to take the time and let myself feel that moment with the sun coming up.  Because whatever was causing my tears was powerful.  And I can't pin point it exactly, but the combination of Christmas morning with the reflection of the past year in my mind was bringing the blessings in my life to the front view. 

And all I could think as the big orange ball rose in the sky was the gifts of family, friends, and loved ones are the most important.  As is the gift of the sun rising in the morning to greet us and welcome us into the every day ahead.   


Last Minute Preparations

In the Christmas tree and lamp lit darkness, I sat tucked in the corner of my couch.  The corner nearest the fire.  A fuzzy blanket wrapped around me and hot coffee steaming up to my face, alternating between reading and crocheting.  Fully aware what I was experiencing was the calm before the festivities really took their mark and hit.  And so it was treasured.  Those minutes spent to myself, fueling my reservoir of heart happiness, were treasured. 
There is something soothing about being up early, starting on tasks for the day after having those precious minutes to read and take care of me.  The day ahead is still wide open while in the morning darkness.  Almost as if I'm stealing time, taking it for my advantage.   
Slowly, the light filtered through my windows and brought with it a dare I say, perfect snowfall.  
I always have the urge when the snow is falling in flakes to get out in it; I'm sure yet another trait of my always ready to pounce inner child.  Instead of tromping through and playing, it was a trip to the grocery store.  Still early enough on Sunday morning it was nearly abandoned, just the way I like it.  Especially while still wearing pajamas.
Once home it was the start of the finale of preparations to the big show of Christmas.  Sugar cookie making next to my kitchen window was spiritual.  The best kind of spirit.


Holiday Spirit

Last year during the holiday season, I had my first experiences with making homemade sugar cookies and other treats.  Really, the entire past year I had my first experiences with most cooking and baking endeavors.  I often chuckle to myself at how lacking I was in the kitchen realm.  Now I actually dare call myself a fairly decent cook and am adept at the planning, prep, and execution of real life meals.  Even cooking for company!  I am an adult.  It's scary. 
So today it felt old hat to rise at six in the morning and start my holiday baking.  I didn't question my every move, didn't send any "Help me!" texts, and didn't feel unease.  Quite the opposite in fact.  Now when I'm in the kitchen, I'm calm.  Happy.  Putting ingredients together to create something new is yet another outlet for this creative being. 
And Christmas music is a must.  As are not boring socks. 
Also, in the afternoon, two grown  men watching the Santa Clause starring Tim Allen in the living room while I  unwrapped kisses in the dining room is a must.  I do believe the holiday spirit is contagious. 
I also do believe in this goody.  Last year.  This year.  It's oh so good.  Do yourself a favor and make it.  It's easy to make, color coordinates with the theme, and is pretty.  You can not go wrong here.   
For the first time, I made the sweet kind of Chex mix.  Eight sticks of butter later and I have five gallon bags of the ridiculously addicitive sweet and salty crunchy stuff.  I put some in a Merry Christmas mug, enjoyed it slowly while sitting by the tree, and then placed the rest in my garage where the car lives.  It's safer that way.  I wish I could share a recipe for it but I dumped and poured and guessed until it looked right.  I'll write it down next time.  And believe me, there will be a next time.   
Pretzels and kisses and hugs as the finale.  No recipe needed.  Simplicity.  I could have even handled these two years ago.  And that's saying a great deal.
Sugar cookies is all I have left on my list.  I sense a Betty kind of Sunday afternoon on the horizon.   


The Key to Sitting

Let me tell you about the time I brought my crocheting along to a Saturday basketball tournament.  

I brought my crocheting along to a Saturday basketball tournament.  

I'm not sure it needs a more detailed explanation.  It's a new nerdy level for me and it was glorious.  I was able to sit on the bleachers and get an entire cowl finished instead of sitting on the bleachers going bonkers from sitting.

Let me tell you about the time I brought my crocheting along to a different Saturday afternoon college football party at my brother and sister-in-law's house.  

I brought my crocheting along to a football party at my brother and sister-in-law's house.  

Again, more explanation seems a bit futile.  

My brother made several comments about who invited the grandma but again, it was glorious.  

I sat through most of the game.  Paid attention?  Probably not.  But still!  

So here's where all this is leading me.  Crocheting is the key to sitting. 

And if I needed any further evidence...a Sunday evening sitting in Karen's living room, her crocheting a chain for her Christmas tree on the loveseat and me crocheting a chain for my Christmas tree on the couch, sealed the deal. 

If you've met Karen and I, you know how ridiculous the thought of us sitting like two little grannies while the boys watched football really is.  She was skeptical at first as I taught her how to do the chain but soon after she had the hang of the looping and lopping she looked over at me, "Alright, this is fun."

I knew she'd get it, being the fellow non-sitter she is.  

I'm a believer.  I'm a bit obsessed because what I do is become a bit obsessed.  Crocheting is a love.  

Because we are on the topic of cell phone pictures...

Wait we weren't on that topic but I'm headed there now.  Some December snapshots.  The cookie exchange invite.  Total heart happy mail.  

Pretty beans for soup.

The first day of December when I went wild.

The first day of December sunrise which started the day of the green and red explosion.  I blame the not planned nail and cup coordination.  It started it all.  

And the Christmas music.  I also blame the Christmas music.

Thursday night homemade bread rising by the fire.

The tree.  Which I swear is not crooked.  

An evening with my niece, the budding artist.

The ballet with Brittany and Stella.  Watching Stella's eyes light up was Christmas spirit at its finest. 

Homemade cupcakes for a girl named Sundie because you can't be having not homemade cupcakes on your birthday.

Morning light is still my all time.

Book club Christmas party.


Gingerbread marshmallows at a Winter ONEderland birthday party.

A wonderful night in with roasted veggies, chicken, and quinoa.  I cook like a girl. 

 Oh this time of year.  As busy as it can be, I sure do want to give it a big ol' squeeze hug.  Or maybe I'll just make it a cowl.