Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Are You Ready for January?

Are you there?
How are you doing?
Holding up okay?
(Mr. LB took this photo last weekend.)

The tree is down.
The lights and decorations are all boxed up.
Company has left.
The days are short, and nights are looming.
And the bills will begin arriving soon.
January is said to be the most depressing of months for several reasons.
We are experiencing the longest nights of the year.
So what can we do?
Here are just a few ideas.
SAD (seasonal affective disorder) is a very real thing - even among children.
The 'natural light' light bulbs are helpful.
I call them happy lights - to keep SAD away:)
Face the light ~ be it a window or lamp, get that light.
We have spent the last month on a sugar high 
from the cookies and cocoa to the wine with dinner.
What goes up must come down.
Be sure to eat your greens.
I'm talking green beans, dark leaf lettuces, brussels sprouts, chards, etc.
Move! Get outside.
Take a walk, shovel snow, go ice skating, whatever it takes
to get some of that fresh air in your lungs.
Exercise is one of the best mood lifters, boredom busters,
and health builders there is - and it's free.
Missing the family/friends?
Write them a letter.
I know, I hear you saying, "A what?"
Really though, not a novel or even a multi-pager.
Just write a note stating how much you enjoyed the visit,
the yams just the way you like them, seeing the kids, etc.
It appears to be for the recipient, but it's actually a very healthy
thing you can do for yourself.
It's win-win.
Bills.  Oh yea, those things.
Hopefully you were mindful and didn't go too wild.
Either way, look at your finances.
Plot, plan, and set goals.
This might sound like a funny thing to do, but 
I like to set 2 goals:
one is very realistic and attainable
the other is more of an 'if we can swing it' sort of number.
Usually, we hit somewhere between the two numbers
which is still better than the minimum.
Just having the knowledge of what is owed
and what your plan is will alleviate a great deal of stress,
thus the saying "fear of the unknown." 
And lastly,  the longer evenings allow me to stitch 
so I actually look forward to January.
Whether your hobby is reading, doing jig-saw puzzles, or checking your
dentures for cavities, consider this your retreat time.
It won't be long before we are starting seeds
and putting together our project lists for the warmer months ahead.
Remember all the times you uttered the words,
"if only I had a little more time to ____."
Here it is.

~Just trying to help keep us all healthy and happy~

*Happy New Year*

Note: I am not a doctor of any kind.  This is meant as information only.
You are responsible for yourself and your decisions. 
If you are in need of help either medical or mental, please seek it from a professional. 

Until next time,
Nimble Fingers and Even Stitches

Monday, December 21, 2015

Our Tree Has No Lights (& a mini tour)

Christmas is at our house this year.
Last year we were the ones to travel
so didn't do any decorating, tree, anything.
Since this year it's here, 
we went and found a nice little tree last weekend.
There were several 'bottoms' along side the road
where people had chopped down a tree then 'topped' it.
We also found several that people just topped.
That kinda gripes me.
We decided to stop and get one of the bottoms along side the road
to use for boughs and such.
One of our little traditions is lighting the candles on the tree 
Christmas eve, but we usually have lights as well.
This tree is so simple,
I decided we would just have the candles and a few select ornaments.
I have several sheep ornaments and since we are the lambs...
We don't leave them unattended.
Usually, we sit a watch them burn for a little bit and chit-chat quietly.
Our unfinished mantel has lots of boughs and a few simple splashes of red.
Instead of our regular stockings, I just hung a pair of old wool socks
that are in need of some darning.

The nativity scene where the TV used to be.
And a simple candle with pine always seems comforting.

Wishing you all many happy Christmas blessings.

Until next time,
Nimble Fingers and Even Stitches

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Starting Your Own Christmas Traditions

A little tale to inspire you.

When my children were wee little munchkins~
you know that age when blankets get dragged around,
and teddy bears are still being slept with,
and yes, they were much shorter than me,
that's when it started.
It might even have been a school night.
It's difficult to remember.
I do remember they wanted to watch a Christmas movie
and had half their bedding hanging around the living room.
Of course, this time of year it gets dark about 4 o:clock.
We had eaten dinner already so
I said, "Why don't we just have a slumber party?"
We (even me) made up a giant "bed" on the floor.
I made some tea or cocoa and popped corn.
We turned the lights down and proceeded to watch our movie. 
By the time the movie was over,
they were nearly asleep.
There was no fussing about bed time.

And we did so the following year,
and the year after that, and the year after that.
You get the idea.
It's silly really, but I miss having my 'little' kids here
to do such a silly thing as watch
a movie that we've seen multiple times
and sleep on a hard floor with someones foot in my ribs.

The kids of course remember,
after all, it was just yesterday right?
Perhaps someday, they will continue it with their own children.
(Not too soon - they're not quite thaaat old.)

Another thing that started before my son was even born
was the pickle on the tree.
The story is that long ago when there was little or nothing to spare
for gifts,
a father said he was going to hang a pickle on the tree.
There was but one gift, and
the finder of the pickle got the gift.
I loved this.
I would hang our pickle ornament on the tree.
Christmas morning they would come down the stairs excitedly
and begin looking.
They seemed more excited about the pickle prize
than their actual gifts.
The pickle prize was usually something small that required a second person.
Actually, I think one year it was pick up sticks - like I've shown.
So, they still both got to play/share.

We will go get our tree today.
I've had so many people say, "You don't have a tree yet?"
No we don't.
This is actually a little early for us to get a tree.
We usually get it about a week before Christmas.
There are little 'steps' we enjoy throughout the season.
Christmas doesn't revolve around the tree or decorations for us.
It's making each of those little steps special
as we look forward to that special day
and carrying that in our hearts even after the tree is out the door.

If you have endearing traditions, I'd love for you to share
a comment so we can all enjoy.

Merry Christmas
Until next time,
Nimble Fingers and Even Stitches

Thursday, December 3, 2015

About Gifts and Giving Ideas

Each year about this time, I struggle just a little.
Consumerism and advertising seem to be wearing battle armor
and are charging full force towards all of us.
Of course, this is no new song I'm singing here,
but it almost makes me want to hide.
I'm not stingy ~ I love to give,
but who wants to give something because there is a feeling of obligation
or give with the thought that it will be unappreciated and/or end up
in the trash within a month.
(Mom's gift wrapped in a dish towel ~ she likes "fat birds")

That said, the piles of gifts we unwrap are a little different in a couple ways:
first, they aren't piles and 
second, the items themselves might not look like gifts to most folks.
We have a rule in our family~
no gift (with the exception of the kids) can cost more than $10.
Yep, that's right, not $20 or $50, but $10.
After the first year or two of books and slippers,
it began to get more fun.
It's a whole different mind set.
We shop throughout the year thus thinking of giving to loved-ones often.
I have only a gift card to purchase for my grandmother
and a specific stocking stuffer for hubby.
(Grammy is nearly 92 and doesn't need stuff.  She enjoys being able to
go to the store for the few things she needs and having the card.)
We don't have to take out a loan for Christmas:)
Children no longer wish for a simple toy or sweet treat.
Expensive techno-gadgets of various sorts have replaced those things.
Children have no idea how to play marbles ~
you know, draw a big circle in the dirt.
Dirt! Heaven forbid! Get the hand sanitizer quick! (sorry)
They don't know about clearies or cats eyes or how to hold a shooter.
That makes me a little sad 
as do the expectations they seem to associate with the season. 
If you can at all follow me here to where I find myself and can relate,
(am I really alone here?) then here are some gift ideas for various ages.
Marbles~ and show them how to play.
A Jar of Color~ whatever the recipient's favorite color, fill the jar with items of that color: handkerchief, gum, treats, shoe laces, screw driver (or sm. tools,) you will be surprised what you find when looking for color rather than items.
Reusable veggie and grocery bags~ lots of options here
Food~ this one is obvious, but here are a couple gifts in a jar which are nice
because they don't have to be 'dealt with' right away: 
Wool~ various forms available: scarf, mittens, gloves, socks, dryer balls, hat
Not Paper~ We have several quilters in the family so those gifts are wrapped in fabric, but alternatives you might use are: handkerchiefs, dish towels, pillow case, cotton shop rags, etc. - use your imagination
And now my favorite~ an idea from the three wisemen
Gold: of course jewelry which isn't for everybody, but you can get creative and use candies in gold foil, hinges/hardware for a crafter, yellow stoneware, sports team items if gold is one of the team colors, 'dewalt' tools are yellow (gold:)
Frankincense: perfume or candles, spices - something fragrant
Myrrh: oils - either edible cooking oils or soaps/lotions etc (made with oils) 
I realize these are not the original uses and intents for the items, but they do serve as a reminder of what the season is really about.

There is a message on the reader board at the bank across the street from where I work offering Christmas loans.
To me, that seems a bit (read a lot) offensive.
I hope nobody I truly care about would want me to go into debt to buy them a gift.  The truth is Christmas is what we make it.  We have the opportunity to celebrate a very special birthday.  
The gift of love and friendship are all that we can really wish for.
Without those two things what are we?
I'll have more soon,
but for now, enjoy this Christmastime.

Until next time,
Nimble Fingers and Even Stitches