Thursday, December 18, 2008

Sumpn from (almost) nuthin

It's that time of year that gifts are given and baskets are filled. This year is different -- hello! can you say recession? - but it's not stressing me out. Having grown up poor -- which has a tendency to build your creative "muscles" -- I prefer giving humbler, but creative gifts.

In the past, we've gone a little overboard at Christmas. We were both working then and both made decent salaries. And Good Lord knows the economy was better. So, in our hurried forays into the shops, we would grab this and that and this and that and wrap it all till we were exhausted. And then just to make sure we didn't leave anything out, we'd fling a couple of gift cards in there. I'm not saying we didn't put some thought into the gifts, but who needs a mountain of gifts at Christmas? It always made me feel a little funny inside -- probably its me as a poor child looking through the window saying ... this ain't right! I find I PREFER fewer gifts! I love gifts that are homemade or purchased at a thrift store and cleverly upcycled into something else. I think a gift that includes cleverness and love is the best gift of all.

I remember the year Billie & Amanda gave us 2 special gifts. Amanda made some "trivets" of Christmas fabric filled with spice scented rice. And Billie made "Bailey's Irish Creme" from a recipe she found. She put it in a pretty bottle she got at a thrift store. They wrapped the gifts in white tissue paper and I think the ribbons were silver. It was lovely and meant so much to me. I still have the bottle and the trivets.

Now that we're adults and our children are grown, I find we need LESS STUFF! So we've encouraged the kids to give us consumables. Every year Erika bakes some wonderful breads for us - like Black Forest Chocolate Bread or Italian Olive bread. We cut the loaves in half, wrap and freeze them and then when we want a special treat, we pull out one of Erika's breads and it brightens our meal. And we love the thought that we haven't made a big dent in her economy.

Having said all that, I humbly present the baskets I sent to work with DH this mornining. I bought the baskets at Goodwill in Denton for $1.00 each. The one on the left was dark brown, the one on the right was mauve with a country style ribbon glued around it. I removed the ribbon, brushed them off real well, painted them white, stuffed white tissue in the bottom, covered that with a sheet of beautiful gold tissue, and tied a gold bow to the side. The bow is made up of 2 different ribbons and I wired 3 bells to the center. (I got the bells at Dollar Tree - 9 bells for $1.00). One basket has three books wrapped as one package and the other has a beautiful picture frame from Barnes & Noble. Each basket has a mercury glass votive with candle, a large loaf of rum cake, a package of homemade cranberry almond biscotti, and a package of Ghirardelli chocolates. DH added a really neat teeny-tiny flashlight that has a VERY bright beam (my sweet techo DH) and the funky-shopping-bag-chick ornament we found at Goodwill in Waco.

All in all, I'm pleased with the result!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

A Mama Moment

One of the really great things about Mom was she didn't know how to do things, but she did them anyway. For instance, she didn't know how to roof a house, but she probably asked someone ... at the hardware store or perhaps a neighbor ... and the next thing you know, she climbed up onto the house, tied a rope around her waist, attached it to to the roof (to break her fall if she slipped) and started roofing her house. And when she decided to build a carport, she just DID it. She was absolutely fearless about that sort of thing. Remind me to tell you the story about the wasps sometime ... but not now.

Back to my story, yesterday I had a Mama moment.

DH bought me an embroidery sewing machine about 6 months ago and I've been movin and groovin with it ever since. It's been a real learning experience. It's taken a lot of study plus tons of trial and error (with occasional shouts of "YOU RAT B%ST%RD! WHAT'S YOUR PROBLEM!!), but I mastered the machine and have been producing ever since. I'm down to the forging-new-paths stage -- removing blocks of the design and combining it with other designs to produce a whole new thang -- MY thang.

However, yesterday -- two-thirds of the way through a large project -- the machine began to screech jest a leetle bit. Then it suddently got real loud and the needle froze into position. This is where the Mama thing comes in. I unscrewed some parts, oiled it where the manual said to oil it, but decided to oil it up there too -- you know -- right up there! It certainly LOOKED like those were oil holes and it's right where that needle thingy used to move up and down until it froze. Sooo, I oiled it and moved the wheel manually a little back and forth as much as I could, oiled it some more and moved it some more, back and forth till it was moving better. However, all that moving back and forth -- or maybe it was from the big freeze-up -- got the needle out of sinc with the bobbin. At first I thought I was going to have to take the bobbin area apart which is really scary. There's a lot of screws and doo-dads in there. So I just snapped a picture that area and printed it out. My plan was to tape every piece I removed to it's position on the picture. That way I could figure out how to put it back together again afterwards. (Sweet DH called me a genius for thinking of this. I'm so proud!) However, first I grabbed a little screwdriver and slowly move the bobbin thingy jest a tad till it started working again.

When DH got home (and showered me with compliments) he asked if I had blown out the bobbin area to remove the dust. "Sure! See ..." and I bent over and started blowing on it, real hard. He just looked at me (pause) and grabbed one of those canned air things and blew all the thread dust out of there. I couldn't believe how much had collected in there. And my pitiful little lungs didn't dislodge it at all. Live and learn, huh!

My machine is hummin better than it ever has and I'm so proud of myself! I have Mom's blood in my veins for sure.

Now, to finish that project ....