Wednesday, December 31, 2008

2008...a year in review

I have only been blogging on here for a couple of months now, but I really think that the last day of the year merits a glance back to remember the ups and downs and craziness that is my life.

This year, for the first time in quite a while, was spent entirely in one home and one job. It was wonderful. A full year spent in our new home has shown us the joys and the problems of home ownership. This home is ours to do with as we wish. We have gardened and arranged furniture and made plans for the projects and gardening and such that we hope to complete in the coming year. We also practiced using the home design software that we have so that when we are ready for some serious remodeling we can use the program to help us decide on colors, locations, and costs of materials and cabinets and so on. Also, we plan to use it more to plan out garden spaces this year. The gardening we did manage fell short of the plans, but we had only so much time, money and energy to spend on the yard, trees, flowers, vegetables, and bugs. Hopefully we can improve on it in 2009. Our respective places of employment were also satisfactory. The laboratory I work for went through a few personnel changes earlier in the year and we have ended up with a great set of techs who do the job well and are able to work together with only a few personality clashes. I think this is fine, because there is no way a group of people can spend that much time together and be able to get along for all of it. Shane's work is also doing well. Their project is continuing to be ahead of schedule and hopefully that means that the stay and complete bonus will be along sooner than we expect and can be put towards our mortgage. Hurray for paying off our home!

Our families are well and happy. My brother and his wife were transferred to hell...or at least its suburb, but are coping with the boredom that comes from living in the middle of the desert on a tiny base. Their little girl turned one year old in October and is growing so fast. She is a very cheerful child and loves to talk on the phone, which is a blessing since I have only actually met her once. My parents are happy and well and spent lots of time camping and going to the beach, which is great because that is half the reason they moved to that area. I was able to go on a visit to their place this summer while Shane was off at training classes. We also made it to their house for a long Thanksgiving weekend. Shane's parents are also well and are still talking about selling their house and finding a smaller one, something that they have been discussing since all of their children moved out two or three years ago. It would be nice for them if they do, but I admit that it is great for the whole family to be able to have beds when we are all there on the holidays. Shane's sisters have both made changes to their households this year. Gina got herself a little terrier mix puppy this fall, upon which she dotes. The only problem is that the puppy in not very friendly to strangers, even strangers to whom she is related and spent several days. There was quite a bit of barking over the Christmas holidays. Julia gave up on finding a nice apartment after searching for quite a while and decided to share living expenses and quarters with her boyfriend of several years. This is nice for her, since it also moved her a lot closer to work, cutting down a yucky commute in the metro area.

Hobbies for me this year were a mixed bag. I learned a couple of new things and have plans to take on a couple more, but I admit that I have fallen behind on my reading. I have not read as many books this year as I think I normally have. I also have not tried as many new books. This is something that needs to be corrected. Immediately. Some of the new books I have read are the Twilight series by Stephenie Meyers, which I gave mixed reviews, the first few books of the Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan, and a couple of books from the biography section at the library on Elizabeth I. I promise to do better next year and also to share with you the ones I find the best. I am pleased with learning to knit though. I have meant to learn for years and find it very enjoyable. I have done a couple of scarves and lots of practice patches and last night I tried my hand at perling and found it fairly simple, although the stitches seem to come out much tighter than my knit stitches. I will have to search around and figure out why and practice a bunch more. Alternating rows of knit and perl look my nicer that just continuous knitting. Also, I have spend more time cooking and baking and canning now that I have a nice big kitchen. I love baking and wish I had more excuse to. The big problem is that it is a spendy hobby if you cannot use up the baked goods and no one needs that many cookies. I am not sure if the last activity we have really gotten into counts as a hobby, but I love to entertain. Now that we have the space, we have been able to have people over for dinner, games, and movies. It is so much fun and I think it is much better entertainment that spending too much money on a movie and over-priced popcorn or hanging out in a bar or club. We have a large selection of games (which grew quite a bit over Christmas ) and videos and it has been a great pleasure to have our friends over so often.

In summary, I think that we have had a wonderful year and have many reasons to be thankful for our home, family and life. I hope that 2009 will be more enjoyable and lead to many new friends and opportunities for my family and for yours.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Enough relaxing...

I have gotten off work early the last three days because we are so slow and the weather is bad, but I have accomplished very little in all that free time. I ordered some books for Shane's Christmas gifts and came up with the answer to all my puzzling about what to get my mother-in-law. But that is all. I still have to think of more ideas for Shane and figure out the ordering for his mother. So, I have to stop being so lazy and get going.

I need opinions...any ideas for my hustband? He likes to read and play games and be outdoors. The best I am coming up with right now is a new game for him. I am afraid that is not very original, but at least I know he will like it.

For my mother-in-law, the story goes like this: Shane suggested I come up with a gift that would let us spend more time together and work on a project or craft. I love this thought, since I don't think we get to see them often enough, especially considering they are only two hours away. So...the idea I came up with is that I could buy a set or two of pre-stamped quilt blocks for us to embroider and then quilt into a lap quilt for her to use, enjoy, and think of the fun we will have. I really like this idea, but I thought of it awfully late and I cannot seem to find the blocks anywhere in town. I can order them online, but I want to make sure that it is a good idea first. I have not quilted before, but I do like to cross-stitch and embroider and I want to make sure that it sounds like a reasonable project for us to do. My mother-in-law is also pretty good at embroidery. If you have any good online sources for this type of project, I would appreciate it. The only sites I am coming up with right now are JoAnn's and Herrschner's.

So, I am off to search the net some more and then go and wrap another present in the pretty paper I got after Christmas last year. Yay for clearance.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Gift Baskets are done!

I have finished all of the gifts that have to be made except one and bought nearly all of the others. The gift baskets came out great!

I am very pleased that my idea was as good as I hoped it would be. I picked out a cookbook for each basket, crocheted some dishcloths, added cookie cutters, a spoon rest, the apron I made, and a couple of -kitchen whats-its. The mix-in-a-jar stuff was really easy to put together. I made up a jar of brownie mix, oatmeal cookie mix, cocoa mix, and Russian tea mix for each basket and also added a jar of the pear butter we canned this spring.

I am also very pleased with the aprons I made. I did not have a pattern to use, so I just copied the shape of the apron I have and used bias tape to trim it (thank you Bethany!). So pretty!

So, that is what I can accomplish with a five day weekend. I took vacation time that I needed to use up before the end of the year and stayed home Thursday and Friday. I finished most of the work on the presents and some of the household chores I wanted to get done. Saturday we were going to have people over for game night, so I finished my chores and got ready, but it started snowing and my friends were understandably hesitant about risking themselves, their children, and their vehicles on slick, dark roads. My friend Nikki did come over and we had dinner and watched a couple of movies and then it took her over a half hour to make the ten minute drive home. Yuck. So, Sunday was a lazy stay at home and watch it snow day. I accomplished nothing and am completely okay with that. This morning, my husband climbed back into bed after shoveling the driveway and told me the freeway south of town was closed, which meant neither of us could get to work. So, yay for another day off, but I was starting to go stir-crazy. Shane decided to brave the roads in town to go see a movie with a co-worker of his who also could not get to work, so I had him drop me at Nikki's apartment, since she was on a snow day and bored too. We watched movies, had burgers, and played with some beading kits I picked up at Wal-Mart. She made a really cool necklace that she plans to wear tomorrow and I got about halfway through a really complex necklace that shows great promise. I will post a picture if it comes out well. I hope that the roads will be clear tomorrow, since I will have today's work as well as tomorrow's to do in the morning and I really need to get the Christmas packages shipped now that they are completed. Cross your fingers for me.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Falling behind

I am lagging. The race to be ready for Christmas is leaving me in the dust. I made all sorts of promises to myself to have everything done by now...yeah...not happening obviously. So I am trying a new goal. Everything that needs to be shipped goes out by Monday. That is getting awfully late, since that only leaves the post office or UPS a week and a half to work their magic. But I can handle that. If all else fails I will have to pay extra...ugh.

I have accomplished a little though, I have the materials for the aprons and will be cutting them out tonight and hopefully starting to get them put together. I am going to get the ornaments we are making out to get started as well, although they may have to wait for the weekend, since Shane will be helping me and he cannot stay up too late. Today I will decided which mix recipes I want to use and make up my shopping list so I can get them put together over the next few days. I should have the dishclothes done as soon as I can find an hour to crochet the last two and weave in the ends.

I think that is everything, so wish me luck. I have to get ready for work now...yay. :) Good luck on all your goals for the day.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

So much to little time

The holidays have stopped creeping up on me and have started charging.

Actually it's not that bad. Thanksgiving was great. We went to my parents place for the weekend and had a nice relaxing time. My mom had a big turkey for us and made all the sides to go with it. It was so good :) We all ate too much and had a lot of fun. We took some board games with us and played a few of them. The best new game we have is called Escape from Pompei, in which the volcano explodes and you get to sacrifice your opponents to the volcano to try to appease the gods. There is more to it than that, but that is definately the best part.

On Friday we went to the beach, as you may have noticed from my amazing photographic skill... Just kidding, although I am proud of how well I am learing to use my camera. I have only had it for three years now...yay me! ;) The weather was gorgeous and fairly warm for the beach on the day after Thanksgiving. There was a storm a little way out to sea and it was kicking up some nice waves. I bet you could even surf a couple of them...Not bad for the Oregon Coast. We had lunch at a great seafood place in Florence and then drove up to Heceta Head Lighthouse and walked up to the top. It started to get cold, but it was neat to watch the sea lions playing in the waves. On Saturday we mostly just hung out, while we weren't messing with my parents new dishwasher. Games, relaxing, a few movies. It was a nice weekend. I was sad to go home Saturday night, since I don't get to see my parents often enough. It was nice to be able to sleep in on Sunday and relax though, instead of having to get up and drive home in the yucky traffic.

Now it is time to worry about Christmas. I have some crafting yet to do on present for my siblings and for some of the other relatives. I also have baking to do and need to decided on a present for my Secret Santa person at work. This weekend will be busy, because I want to work on all of that and my husband is volunteering to help at the local LEGO competition. I hope to go just to see what all those smart little kids build. Also, I want to start my decorating this weekend and maybe go get our Christmas tree. That may have to wait until next weekend, since I seem to have this one pretty well booked. Wish me luck!