day 10: planning

It doesn't take long for us to take down the tree once Christmas is over, though there's this strange feeling of having to ask "is it over already?" Truth be told, I didn't really go all out this season, as my typical hobbies during the holidays are both baking and watching movies. I barely did much of either, and somehow I'm quite alright with that. Perhaps it marks a shift in change, which seems to be the theme for my hopes of next year.

Resolutions are more like pie crust promises to me (easily made, easily broken) but because I've been working on altering my reluctant nature by learning to respect myself as an individual, I have a few goals that I am looking forward to achieving in the new year. There are quite a few to be honest, but I think with developing patience and determination to believe in myself, it'll all work out in the end. I've already started the work, so I'm ahead of the game in some regard. It's attitude that also gets you to where it is that you need to be, and that's what I've been working on for months now as I slowly urge myself out of my shell. If you don't believe in what you do or want to do, you stay in one spot; and that is quite the summary of my year, this year.

There's no harm in saying that I wish to make next year better than this one, but there is a lot of work to be done in order to achieve that. Like our softly lit and relaxing Christmas tree that once stood in our living room, which I admired mainly on evenings by myself, I look to gain that inner glow and shine.


day eight...continued: reflection

So what was Day 6 and Day 7 about? Well to start, Day 6 was another great opportunity for sharing what I enjoy most; making stuff. I will say that some of my attempts at things didn't fall through (new recipes, new patterns) but instead of getting down about it like I normally would, I looked at it as a new lesson on learning and personal growth. Like how the butternut squash bisque turned out! mmm.

I enjoy practicing positivity in the mix because it creates longer lasting memories to keep with me for years to come, as I'm sure not every holiday season will go effortlessly no matter how hard one may try. Sometimes it is that added stress that makes the holidays what they are and can somehow be enjoyed under the deep breaths of frustration. There were no place cards or table setting that I had anticipated for, but the company to follow and how the evening was enjoyed, those minor details were easily forgotten.

In practicing my own traditions and being accepted for the things I wish to share with others, it is a great gift to receive in seeking personal growth and a sense of accomplishment in being myself. Sometimes we seek so hard to please others that we can lose sight of the simplicity around us, which can so easily be found in the company of those we care most about.

To sit around the table and talk, to see that I've made my own mark in Ian's family (with broccoli being added to the table), to share and laugh casually (and competitively on my part, playing Pictionary *eep!) it's a certain joy I haven't experienced in years; the ability to be accepted and accepting all in the same go.

As year 2 approaches, for time spent in our home, I can say that the word home is becoming more definite and clear in my life. Where my feet rest, where my heart is, who is welcome to be a part of it. That's what the holidays brought to me this year. A better view, a better perspective, a better understanding for the present and what we choose to make of it. It was a much more fulfilling year to just let things go with the flow, and surprise myself with how comforting that familiarity has become.

* Even if making Christmas stockings on the first go meant a lot of four lettered words and throwing of scissors..
I wouldn't want to change this year's experience one bit. Now back to taking advantage of my remaining days at home for the holidays.

What made your holidays special this year?

day eight: laying still

It is kind of funny how the holidays roll by in a massive blur, leaving you wondering in the end where those last two days just went. With the sun shining through the windows and a bit of snow meltage as predicted, we're both settling down indoors to relish in the silence and ability to say that sitting still is much allowed.

I hope your holidays were just as great as ours were.


day six: crunch time

With so much to do still for today I will most likely share the process once it is over. We have quite a few things to do before this evening's Christmas Eve, hosted at our place. This marks our second Christmas in the house!

Most of the extra work I have left is my own doing, as I always like to set the table and do some crafty bits- which causes my friends to call me Martha. It's just what I enjoy doing; place cards, napkins, papery decorative bits, a slight theme in the mix, goody bags. I don't get to host parties like this so often! And so after staying up until 3am making napkins and paper baggies - for the chocolate truffles I still have to make- I have to say that it's the higher heart rate that makes the holidays what they are. It wouldn't be the same without it.

Happy Holidays from all of us!


day five: stockings

Though my first attempts at Christmas stuff, so far, hasn't been so glamorous (both baking and sewing went poorly) I am happy to at least say that we have some stockings on our mantel. I didn't get too hard on myself about this one since I had originally picked a pattern that was much too confusing for a beginner, equipped with things like inner lining, complicated seams and a patience I couldn't imagine mustering up in the mix. So because I wanted to just get comfortable with the machine and make the experience fun and less frustrating than my first attempt at sewing, I decided to go for the easiest method I could; trial and error.

First, I made up my own little template to trace around so that when I followed with the machine, I'd have a nice pencil line for guidance in keeping things straight (or at least appear to be straight from a distance* Wink.) Then I pinned things down, left it at that for the night and then pulled out the machine the next morning, after some deep breathing and telling myself to take my time and enjoy it for all that I could. Over thinkers sometimes need to shut things off before they turn things back on again.

So it looks like Ikea has saved Christmas this year, as we now have two stockings in bold terrific patterns hanging from our mantel. The fabric is sturdy and affordable so there was no stress in mind while I gave it another whirl. No inner lining, no fancy seams, just utter simplicity at its best. To add a little bit of flair for detail I sewed on a little bit of ribbon (for hanging) and a button (for fun.) I love fat buttons.

And so, here are my first stockings.

day four: baking

When making my favorite Christmas cookies, I always have to have a tea handy and my two favorite ingredients to put aside and smell when I get the chance. Any recipe that calls for both vanilla and almond extract is a keeper. I could spend all day smelling them both.

With my trusty mixer I set to work and blankly stare as I feel like I should be doing something while the machine does all the work. I guess that's what the tea is for?

I was a little miffed that the first (and later second) attempt didn't turn out so hot, and so I looked for the positive in the situation. Like my new ceramic tea spoon set. I love the little tsp (to be read as "tisp.")

Though my baking is kind of set back an extra day in planning, I just might have to get back to painting ornaments to zone out the frustration. What would the holidays be without it, right?


day three: ornamenting

Painting ornaments is something my family and I used to do, for years, as a way of relaxing and slowing down over the holidays. With some quiet Christmas tunes in the background, a fresh brewed coffee (or Pepsi back in the day) my mom, sister, aunt and I would sit around the kitchen table and set to work on what felt like hours of silent concentration.

As an adult I can now see how important that momentary escape from the holiday chaos can be, as I have a list still to go by which has me a little nervous that it's the 23rd already tomorrow. Instead of grow frantic and try to complete everything at once, like I usually do, I instead sat down and followed through with my family's greatest tradition.

I may not have painted so much as glued and chopped up crossword puzzles, but the task itself was a great reminder of how important it is to slow down and just let your hands do the walking/talking/fidgeting/cutting/pasting/sticking to the table. It was a wonderful escape that I plan on taking again later today.

Here's to family traditions!

day two: drawing of dots

Though this is an ongoing project that will probably take a lot of time before it is finalized, I thought I'd share a little bit of what has been going on in the world of writing, as it has been my reason for slacking in the blogging department. Like I've said, silence is often a good thing around here.

It started shortly before the fall when I got myself a little book on star gazing. I'd always been fascinated by the night sky, thanks to my grandfather and what he taught me about it as a kid, but never quite knew how to connect-the-dots on my own, so to speak. It seems like an easy idea to just look in the book, figure out the constellation and run outside to see where it is, right? Not exactly. After a few nights of running back and forth from the house- for light to compare the sky with the dots in the book- star gazing wasn't exactly a relaxing effort.

After months of dot drawing, mapping out the sky in directional patterns, learning the stories while putting my own twist of memorization in the mix, I began to see some unintentional progress in my work that has me looking ahead without hesitation or reluctance, and wondering what to do first in pursuing the final piece.

Whether it be an illustrated story or another form of media, I haven't decided. At least I know that there is a lot to look forward to in the new year, and a lot of little dots to be connected, as I learn about myself as an artist, writer and budding nerd. Oh yes, it's so cool when you tell your friends that you're going outside to find the Great Square of Pegasus.

* This also explains the guy with the goat. It's Auriga. One of the first constellations I found above our house.


day one: kicking back

Before I get started on going all out, I thought it was appropriate to slow down and catch up on rest from this week. It was long, stressful and way too full of negative energy that I just need to let it out and let back in, in order to find my sense of balance and enjoy the holidays for what they're worth. Of course as soon as a blanket is laid out, Tim is there to help weigh it down and keep it extra warm- which I always find amazing that he knows no matter where I am in the house, that his assistance is required.

When it comes to the holidays there is a piece of me that grows rather blue inside, as the reality of my situation is that I don't have much family to hold onto anymore. To think that the holidays were once shared with a family of nearly 18 people under one roof, it's an unsettling feeling at times to see that the ones remaining within grasp are but 2. In some ways the holidays have been a time of grief, letting go and dealing with change as each year can be a challenge within itself depending on my mood or reaction to the situation.

Learning to take what is in the now and share it with others has only recently become a part of my holiday traditions, where even if I go at it alone I feel that sense of grounding that I haven't had in years. Familiarity is becoming more prominent in my day to day, which is a lovely feeling to grow on, since having lived in 17 homes in my life, I had no idea before how to settle and say "this is where I am to stay" and actually trust it. The pieces are restructuring before my eyes.

To see that I have my own home, my own space, with my own little family to grow with, it's a great thing to celebrate and be rid of that usual emptiness that doesn't need to be there anymore. It's true that there's no place like home for the holidays, and only recently am I beginning to see just where my home actually is.

I love these moments of learning, as it is a gift within itself to see that I no longer have to pick up and become reacquainted with another unfamiliar space and adjust to being who I think I am all over again. It's easy to lose sight of yourself within so much unnecessary, internal chaos. And so, with the help of a trusty blanket and a fuzzy little anchor to keep me grounded and bring me back down to earth, I can see that there is way too much to be happy for in the now.

That's a gift I could never exchange.


taming the martha

6 more work days- straight- and I am officially on Christmas break. Hooray! I'm loving the wicked cold that we have been having lately, as it makes me more and more happy to be in that place I call home and look forward to another holiday spent with Ian (and Tim.) I have a lot of holiday bits and pieces to tamper with, so I will make sure to be more active with my writing, as this time of year- as anyone who knows me- is one of my most favorite for the sake of celebrating family, memory, home and comfort... oh, and how can I forget CRAFT! Ornaments, stockings, blankets, felt, baking and more. I've been waiting so anxiously to get my hands on them all.

Just wait until I pull out the Martha and start planning the seating arrangements for this year's Christmas Eve dinner in our home. It's probably enough to make our neighbors nauseous. It's what I do. Patience. 6 more days and the fun begins.


the many lives of Tim

I decided to spare Tim the embarrassment of taking his photo just now, as he lost one of his precious lives by taking a lightning fast dip in the bath tub this evening. I've never seen eyes so big.

It's so hard not to giggle at the sight of skinny legs and spready toes, as he has been drying himself off for the last hour. My sweet boy and his curious ways.