Dear Readers,

The picture is a hay rake I saw during my last visit to Tennessee to see my daughter.

click photo to enlarge

I realize I have been absent a long time–almost a month. I have not turned on my “blogging computer” in that time more than two or three times. I apologize. All of you know life gets in the way sometimes. It got in the way very big and very unexpectedly after my last post. I have no idea when I will be back–if I will be back. I hope to be back, but I cannot predict anything.

Here is a little of it:

-Three months ago we had three pets. We now have one, and the other one we thought was lost as well. That has been a lot of stress, never mind time.

-Chic is still in Tennessee, and that takes a lot of time. Writing extra letters, sending extra packages, Skyping on her schedule and visiting. And although it is what is best right now, it is an emotional drain for us.

-Chic’s school here will be better next year, but there is giant upheaval that is causing extreme amounts of stress and time drain. Prince Charming is on the school board, and one week there were three meetings. There are meetings, interviews, etc. at least every two weeks, usually more, and private consults in between. (And I am so glad Chic is not here to be in the environment of upheaval.)

-A very good friend of ours has some serious health problems. We only recently learned the extent of the seriousness, and we know that we are among a handful in the know. Not only do we need to lend our time and support, but we want to.

What I hope is that this is like a new job with lots more responsibility. When I first get a job like that, there is often a big learning curve. It seems overwhelming, and I work late. But then suddenly, I figure it all out, and I am often bored like I was at the previous job. But I have not been bored in a long, long time. My schedule is always at maximum capacity, so extra things never fit. I might make them adjust with time, but I might not.

My life has thrown a lot at me lately that I have chosen to let take a lot of my time. I believe it is important that I do that, but the thing that has had to suffer is blogging (and Facebook). I have not even had time to get on here and do a post like this although I knew I should a few weeks ago.

I will be back when I can… if I can. But I think of you all the time. I  miss reading your blogs, but I know I cannot allow myself to do that right now or the daily things will not get accomplished. And I have a lot to tell you and show you, but now just is not the time.

Love you and miss you,

Louise

Last week when Chic and her “big sister” were here, we did lots of fun stuff. (Hopefully lots of it coming to a blog near you soon.) One day we went to the top of the mountain on the tram. There was about 6 feet of snow at the top, so the girls had a great time playing in it. We walked around to get better places to play, and I saw this picture. I really liked it, so here you go!

To see LOTS more terrific sky pictures or to find out how to participate in this meme, head to the SkyWatch blog.

Note to my regular readers: I know, I know, I have been worse than usual about posting/visiting. Chic was here for 10 days. I was completely occupied with the visit then. Now I am trying to dig out from under the pile that accumulated while she was here. I will be back!

Last Sunday after we left the Track and Field Championships, we saw this foreboding sky. We were not in a place to get a good picture so hoped it would last until we got to a good spot. This is not nearly as intriguing as when we originally saw it, but a few days later, it looks interesting to me.

To see LOTS more terrific sky pictures or to find out how to participate in this meme, head to the SkyWatch blog.

Most of you know when I visit your blog, it is sporadic and I try to catch up what I have missed. This is not because I do not feel like blogging/visiting or because I am goofing off.  It is because I am busy. Granted, much of it is self-imposed busy, but busy I am.

Last week I looked at my life since Thanksgiving, and there have been THREE days since then in which I did not have a specific deadline of something that HAD to be done on a day. Now I do not have a “real job,” so my deadlines are not usually reports or presentations; they can be anything. (For my church treasurer job, I do have reports and presentations due at least monthly, however.) It may be a Friday, and those days always mean a ton of food has to be made because I cook for Friday and Saturday on Fridays.  My point is that the things I have to get done may not seem like deadline material, but for me there is always a reason something has to be done by a specific day.

So I thought I would show you some of what I have been doing for the past three months. (It is MARCH? Christmas is just around the corner!)

It started with Chic’s birthday. Since it was the Christmas season, she requested poinsettia cupcakes for school.

There are 13 children in Chic's classroom, but her teacher refuses to do cupcakes before school is out. (What's wrong with lunch?) This irritates me because when Chic gets cupcakes for a birthday, there is never one for her sister. I made sure every sibling of every classmate had a cupcake, too. (I wanted to leave out the teacher, but I was polite.)

Remember my Elf Escapades? Here are a few things I made for that.

Clockwise from top left: Napkin rings, box to hold napkin rings, "Merry" bag for the 12th night, tree bag. I made all the things shown. I loved it, but it does put a dent into one's time.

Clockwise from top left: 1) Napkin rings. 2) Box for napkin rings. 3) "Merry" gift bag for the last night. 4) Evergreen tree gift bag.

This was the best Elf Victim yet! On the 9th or 10th night, I was met at the door by this.

Sorry for the lousy picture, but I didn't want to get caught! This was the 12th night of Elf Delivery, and the front door and garage door of this house were OPEN! I took Chic with me for the experience, but it didn't help with the stealth. On the door are all the notes I left with gifts (the notes appeared on the 9th night), and there was a gift for me, too. I have never been so wonderfully welcomed!

Next is the Christmas ornaments and boxes. Since 1995 I have made a Christmas ornament yearly. It started as a gift to the infant daughters of very close friends and has grown to a few other girls (some now in high school) like my daughters and niece and some other special friends/family (aunts, etc.).

This year I made 36 "icicles" and boxes to hold them all.

For the staff Christmas party at school, there was an ornament exchange. This is the box I made, and inside was one of my annual ornaments, left over from about 3 years back.

This box was very last-minute, but I just loved how it turned out.

This is the holiday treat we give E.V.E.R.Y.O.N.E. They are called pizzelles and are Italian, waffle-like cookies made in a special iron.

I can't remember how many of these we made, but I know it was over 1000. I made the first 1/3 of them, then Prince Charming did the rest. (Bless him!)

Don’t forget the school treats. I made about 30 of the ones on the left for Chic’s classmates/friends plus the kids in my class at church. (She painted the sticks.) Chicklet’s class treats were on the right. I only had to make about 10 of those.

This is one of my favorite things–a gift for my nephew. When we visited Missouri in November I learned that he (who is Chic’s age, eight) is really into seeds. I was walking around my yard one day and noticed so many seeds. I started to gather them for him, then I thought I would just make that his Christmas gift. So I made seed packets (with pictures if I had them–stamped or drawn if I did not) for all of them and instructions for growing.

I never realized how many seeds I had in my own yard!

Next is the annual gift. Last year I made “winter” banners as holiday gifts for close friends/family. This year I did “spring.” (Can you guess what it will be next year?) I made 17 of these. Each one takes 2-1/2 – 3 hours. Call me an idiot!

Another rotten picture; I was pressed for time. But the good (?) news is that I have an extra of these. If you would like to be in a drawing for it, e-mail me at louisestamps at aol dot com to let me know. You have until Monday, March 8, to e-mail me.

Let’s move to Valentine’s  Day! (We left shortly after Christmas to drop off Chic in Tennessee. I was home one day before a business trip, then 1-1/2 weeks before visiting Chic. January was a blur.) These are the boxes I assembled for my Valentine’s for all the students in my art classes.

I made up about 55 of these boxes.

These are the cookies that went in the boxes above. VERY. BAD. to have these things in my house! Very bad!

I have no idea how many cookies I made, but it was about 8 or 9 batches. (I did double/triple batches in the mixer so I cannot remember.)

These are boxes I made for special people such as my friend in TN who is taking care of Chic and some special people at church. I made them from flat, chipboard hearts.

I made 8 of these boxes.

Something had to go in these boxes, so I made homemade truffles. It was a first for me. Slightly time-consuming, but really no more so than anything else I do.

The dark ones are Oreo truffles and the light ones are Italian truffles.

As I was making the heart boxes above, I kept thinking of other people for whom I would like to make some. The problem was that I only had chipboard hearts to make eight. But I had regular chipboard, so I die-cut square scallops to make four more boxes.

The left one was for someone VERY into brown, so it does not look much like Valentine's Day.

There were also quite a number of Valentine treats for classmates of which I forgot to take pictures.

The below items are also for special people for Valentine’s Day. They are super fuzzy socks wound to resemble ice cream. I made “cones” for them and packaged them. I also put chocolate oil on them. One recipient still has not opened hers because she thinks it is so cute. I made 18 of the bigger ones for adults and 6 of the smaller ones for children.

Clockwise from top left: 1) All of the socks put into their "cones." 2) The finished packages. 3) Notice the finished packages have "sprinkles on the cones. I made them by punching out holes. 4) This is some of the paper left over after the punching.

Being so industrious means that eventually the holidays will slow down and I can move on to other things. The next two are “name frames” I made for girls I visited a year ago. I took pictures of their rooms and just now got around to making the 8″ x 10″ art for them.

Clearly Kendra's mom is good at decorating!

Kayla is Kendra's older sister who had just redecorated her own room. (The decorating thing must be genetic.)

Just last weekend Chicklet was invited to a birthday party. She could not go because CHIC IS HOME FOR SPRING BREAK THIS WEEK!!!!!!! But I made a container quickly to take on Friday and filled it with craft items. I thought it turned out well.

This is a large canister that used to hold SlimFast. I love the size of these so I collect them to decorate at such times.

This week I am not doing anything of the sort because CHIC IS HOME FOR SPRING BREAK!!!! We have had several other activities already and have more on the agenda.

If you comment, be honest with me. Tell me if you love this or hate it. Tell me if you think I am insane. If you knew me in real life, would all of the above make you love me or love to hate me? (Your answers do not matter that much because I do these things because I love to do them, but I am interested in perceptions. I have all viewpoints in my “real life” acquaintances.)

Next projects? Easter!

Yesterday our family went to the National Indoor Track and Field Championships that were being held in Albuquerque.

I went to a very. small. parochial school, so we never did competitive sports, but once a year we had a track and field day. I LOVED it, and although I am pretty much not a sports fan, I love track and field. The athletes amaze me.

I fully admit my pictures are lousy unless you are into impressionism (which I am); I have absolutely NO experience with indoor, action photography. After uploading these I realized a couple of things I could have done differently to make them better, but it was difficult to see the pictures well on the tiny screen, so I did not realize all the blur until I uploaded. But I wanted to share a few pictures with you anyway since we had such a fun day with our kids.

Men's hurdles, 60M. (I love the short races. The athletes were like lightning in the 60M hurdles and dashes.)

A pole vaulter talking to her coach.

Pole vault is something I always wanted to do but never had the least opportunity. It looks so fun to fly upside down, so high, up over the bar.

This is my favorite picture. I loved the blurred color. I believe it is the women's 60M hurdles. (The effect is better if you click to enlarge.)

My World is a weekly meme in which participants are virtual tour guides. Go check it out and see the worlds of others. Or better yet, take a look at the guidelines, and do your own My World Post!

I actually don’t have blue skies today, and I do not believe I have had most of this week.  So I went into my archives of a picture I missed last summer. I believe this is just entering the mountains going east off the interstate that goes south out of Salt Lake City.

I love wind turbines, and I always love the moon. And I am just about as tired as winter many of you are, so I thought a summery blue sky would be nice.

To see LOTS more terrific sky pictures or to find out how to participate in this meme, head to the SkyWatch blog.

In August I promised to do a post on Antelope Island for My World Tuesday. Finally, here it is.

Although I have been to Salt Lake City many times for conventions for my business, I had never been to the lake.  This time my family and I made a point to spend part of a day there, and we chose Antelope Island. Wise choice. We will go back every chance we get when we are in  Salt Lake City.

We really thought the lake would be pretty non-exciting and smelly. It smelled a little, but was not bad. It might be worse at different times of the year.

We drove the 17-mile length of the island and took one hike. There are thousands of birds there as well as antelope and buffalo. (We only saw buffalo.) What a beautiful place. (Most pictures can be enlarged when clicked.)

The water was such an icy blue.

We hiked through these boulders, then I just sat and absorbed the view.

The boulders had many areas where the girls could play and hide.

Part of my view from atop a boulder.

We saw quite a few buffalo, but the bird on the back of this one makes it my favorite picture.

The terrain of the island as we drove from one end to the other.

This is the view one direction from the causeway as we were leaving. The number of birds along the causeway was astounding. And the colors and reflections captivated me.

My World is a weekly meme in which participants are virtual tour guides. Go check it out and see the worlds of others. Or better yet, take a look at the guidelines, and do your own My World Post!

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