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!

2008-11-23box

I got a wonderful package in the mail this week. WONDERFUL!  It was from Smalltown Mom. I won a giveaway she had. (I actually think I did not intentionally sign up for it, but I’m so glad I won!) I have to tell you that I never win anything, but I have been blogging less than six months and have already won TWO things! I know that is a bad average for some of you, but in the span of my life, it is incredible.

So when I won, Smalltown Mom asked me which kind of candy I wanted. Neither of my choices had ever been in my mouth before, but one was seasonal truffles, and I am a bit of an addict to seasonal truffles of another brand, so I went for that. LITTLE DID I KNOW THAT MORE STUFF WAS COMING, TOO!

Prince Charming brought in the box, which I photographed from about 15 feet away because of my only working camera lens only working in the 200 mm position. The photos are not terrific, but you get the idea.

2008-11-23stuff

I still have an ugly cough, so I am going to have to wait on the truffles a while longer (sugar always upsets the cough), but those socks are going on my feet tonight (thank goodness I get to stay home and be cozy tonight!), and that lotion is going to get initiated on bath night.  I can’t decide if I Prince Charming will make the muffins for Thanksgiving breakfast, or if we will have them on a weekend. No matter. Except for the truffles, all of this stuff was locally produced in her area.

Oh, I still have  yet to tell you why I read Smalltown Mom’s blog! It is because she is funny and REAL. Her posts are not always meant to be funny, but she sees humor in most situations. She has two boys that she loves like crazy, and I know a lot about their goings on from her blog. And I am going to say that being female and having dated my share of “Mama’s boys” in my life, that I think she is doing a great job raising her boys, and they are well-grounded and are not going to drive their dates crazy with their mom connection, even though it is strong. It is strong only in the best way. I love the relationship she has with her sons. 

Thank you Smalltown Mom! I love my stuff,  I love reading your blog and I love your kind heart!

Now for the awards…

First, I’m SO far behind on this. I’m so far behind that I am ashamed to admit how long ago I got this award cannot even do all of the awards at once, or you would be overwhelmed and not even think of looking at the blogs to which I am passing these. I was going to do two at a time for a while, but today I only have time for one.

arte_y_piconourishthesoul

It is the Art Y Pico Award, and I got it from Nourish the Soul. Deb is on a little hiatus right now after having finished being a parent in three weddings (one of them in a foreign country) in the past year. She said she had some projects she needed to catch up on. Ummmm… WHO WOULDN’T?  Anyway, she is a wonderful person and an interesting writer. I was introduced to her about the time she was headed to rehearsal dinner for wedding #2, but had forgotten her clothes. She is quite industrious and inventive. Her posts are timeless, so you can still check her out.

This award is for creativity, design, interesting comment or for contributing to the blogging community. I am honored to receive this award from Deb.

Now before I pass these on, let’s have a refresher on Louise’s Award Rules:

1) There are no rules.

That about covers it. But it means that I am not going to tell people they got the awards. If they are my readers, they’ll figure it out, but my reason for passing them on is so that I can tell everyone whos reads this about some blogs I really like to visit. If you receive an award from me you may or may not acknowledge it. You may or may not post about it. You may or may not pass it on. It’s up to you.

So here is where this award goes, and I hope you will check out these blogs if you are not already familiar with them:

In a Soft Light. Beautiful photography of nature. Beautiful. It is always peaceful to go to this blog.

Ivar Irvig. Stunning photos. He lives in Norway and is apparently outside all the time taking pictures. Probably not, but he has an abundance of amazing shots.

Murrieta 365. More photography. Jan knows her way around a camera and photographs lots of interesting things. Her eye is artistic.

 Where the Walls are Soft. Les can tell a story. She manages to have a lot of stories about other people, too. She has an excellent way of getting it all into poignant and humorous words. For some technical reason which I am unqualified to identify I have not been able to leave a comment there for AGES, so if you go check her out and see the meme, tell her that I am SO with her on #43! I used to have a “Wayne Wall” in my high school dorm room!

UStamp4Fun. I know Amy in real life. That would lead one to think she would not be getting this award! I really do not think I know a stamper who can stamp any better. Really. I love Amy’s designs, but her real talent is taking ANYTHING (someone else’s (like my) bad design or her own spectacular design) and stamping it so well that it doesn’t look like human hands could have done it. She’s that good. And because I know her in real life, I will say that she makes me laugh. She’s all East Coast. She does not mince words. And she’s a redhead. We know I am partial to red hair on women.

Stay tuned. More awards coming to this space in the near future. (But not tomorrow or the next day!)

 

To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven.  Eccl. 3:1 (NKJV)

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2008-11-14allonporch

Do you ever feel like you are “good.” Or wonderful? Or special? Like you do so many things (especially on a volunteer basis) for so many people and organizations that no one could keep up with you if they tried? Do you ever pat yourself on the back for all the things you accomplish that you know ten five other people could not do as well or half as fast? Do you ever secretly (yes, secretly–sometimes it is a secret even to yourself) feel like you are a little above most of the rest of the pack due to how much you take on, and accomplish?

Well, Reader, I feel all of those things sometimes. In all my life I have made diligent effort to not praise myself, but inside I know how “good” I am. I do not mean “sweet” or “angelic.” I am not those things. (I laugh, hideously, when people say, “You’re so sweet.”) But I am good at most things I decide to do. Most of the time, better than good. I know a lot of you know what I am talking about because you are the same type of people. (In fact, by some of your comments in previous posts, I wish my readers lived close to me because then I know I would not be so busy!) And when one is like this, like I am, people respond positively all. of. the. time. I am not going to list all the things I (and my family) do that bring us praise, but I will say that almost wherever we go where there is interaction with other people, we are lauded and praised for a myriad of things ranging from my cooking to the behavior of our children. When people praise you all of the time, it has to somehow go to your head. Even if you are the “humble” type (which I believe I am), all the accolades add up, and it is easy to start feeling pretty good about yourself.

Then add blogging. I know there are trolls out there, but I have not had any. Likely because most of my posts are for the most part benign, but people are just NICE in their comments to me. YOU are nice to me! Last week my SkyWatch post had over 100 comments and all were glowing and complimentary. Now I am wise enough to realize that most people are not going to say something unkind in that situation, but still… to read all that good stuff does no harm to one’s self-esteem.

So I am admitting now that I go through life pretty happy with myself most of the time. I do not think my ego is inflated (those of you who know me personally can correct me there if I am fooling myself), and I know I do not think I am better than anyone else. But I do know I can and do accomplish more things than the average person. Sometimes it makes me crazy because I do so many things and some around me do so few, but probably even that feeds my self-esteem a little bit.

So today I was brought back to earth. My doorbell rang. It was not time for the UPS man, so I did not answer it. I quietly went to peek to see if it was someone I knew or a salesperson, and no one was there. I thought I saw a basket. That seemed a little strange, but our neighborhood is good at passing baskets of goodies around (often initiated by yours truly), so I thought it was that. I was in the middle of something, so I left it there and forgot about it.

A couple of hours later I went outside and found the basket you see above. I was astounded. It just seemed like there was too much stuff in there to be a neighborhood goody basket. I brought it inside and looked closely. DEFINITELY too much for a neighborhood gift, and I was sure I saw a gift card. WHAT WAS GOING ON?

I opened it, and there was a note like a scroll:

 2008-11-14note

It said it was from my church. It said “they” realized how much we do, and it was a small token of appreciation.

If you are a regular reader, you may remember that one of my many church responsibilities is Church Treasurer. That means I know there is no budget for things like this. Also, I would know if it was done anyway because I would have to have the receipt. I know I will not get a receipt. That means one of two things: 1) The Pastor and his wife did it on their own with their own money, or 2) A group of people got together and contributed and did it. My vote is on #1 because I know how the Pastor is. But either way, it was kind and generous and humbling. Sometimes when someone (like me) does so many things, s/he almost thinks that no one else is doing anything. Sometimes I feel like all I do is give, give, give. I do not WANT to “get,” but sometimes I just wish there were a little less giving. But someone else gave to me, and it was a sobering experience.

Here are the things that were in the basket:

2008-11-14allunwrapped

 

These are little mint tins for Chic and Chicklet along with Ben & Jerry’s gift cards for them:

 2008-11-14ccgiftcardshk

 

Below is a Toys ‘R’ Us Gift card for Chic and Chicklet. 

 2008-11-14toysrus

Reader, the value of that gift card is $40.

The bread and the wild rice soup is below. The bread was Herb Four-Cheese bread. We had it with dinner tonight. (Remember I make bread on Fridays? This came early enough that I had not started making bread yet. It was nice because I am sick.) It was DELICIOUS!

 2008-11-14soupbread

 

A jar of raspberry jam is next. Did whoever know that raspberry is my favorite? Doesn’t the label just look like what is inside will be good?

 2008-11-14jam

 

Next is the sparkling cider and munchy-stuff mix. We will have the cider for tomorrow’s dinner after church. (If the residents of this house are not named “Louise,” they will be lucky to get even a bite of the munchy stuff.)

 2008-11-14cidertrailmix

And finally, this:

 2008-11-14ws

Reader, this is a gift card to Williams-Sonoma for $100. (Can any of you imagine that I was in tears by this point?)

So our family is feeling a little more grounded than we might have yesterday, or even this morning. We still have plenty of self-esteem and we are still doing all the things we were before. We still do not ever get a full day “off.” But we fully realize that we are not the only ones.