Friday, November 30, 2012

My Baby Turned 3...

Today was Zoé's third birthday.  We spent the day watching Mickey Mouse Clubhouse (her favorite).  I decorated the cake like Tootles.  She liked her presents too.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The Right to Celebrate Christmas, an essay

Today, I want to take a moment to talk about something that's been on my mind for awhile.  And that is the right to celebrate the holidays your way.

My thoughts on this subject go back to when I was working at T-Mobile.  We had a very nice lobby in the call center and they always put up a huge Christmas tree and also an electric menorah and the Kwanzaa candelabra thing (sorry, don't know the name).  I always thought it was nice until one day I was sitting there waiting for my husband to pick me up and I realized that all the ornaments on the tree were just generic colored balls.  At that moment, I realized that I really couldn't say that my religion (Christian) was being represented in this lobby.  The tree was clearly a secular Christmas tree, the menorah was Jewish and the Kwanzaa candelabra...well, I'll be honest that I don't know a lot about that holiday except that it's African American.  There were no crosses, no mangers, no nativities, no doves, no wise men....absolutely nothing that represented the actual Christian Christmas.  I thought about complaining to HR but I didn't.  Mostly because I didn't think they'd do anything anyway.

On Facebook and in emails this time of year, you'll see Ben Stein's Christmas confession.  Most of it is actually true.  You can read what he actually said here.  The gist of his confession is that even though he's Jewish, he doesn't feel threatened by Christmas trees or anything having to do with Christian Christmas.  I share his sentiment.  I think you should be able to celebrate "the holidays" any way that you want (as long as it's legal).  I have a blogging friend who's a Hellenistic pagan.  She celebrates Solstice.  That's perfectly fine.  That doesn't offend me.  She made a wonderful "countdown to Christmas" for her son.  Isabella on Phineas and Ferb being Jewish and celebrating Hanukkah doesn't offend me.  Being totally into Santa Claus doesn't offend me.

What really offends me is when I get the gist that I'm not allowed to display my faith and my views on Christmas.  Our Constitution gives us the right to "freedom of religion" and not "freedom from religion."  It's a wonderful thing.  We all have the right to worship however we choose.   We do not, however, have the right to force people to worship in a specific way or to impose our beliefs on others.

In the past fifteen or so years, I've noticed a trend of Christian beliefs getting stomped on.  It makes me mad.  I have the right to put a giant light up nativity in my front yard.  My neighbor has the same right to put up a giant David's star and menorah or a pentacle or fill the yard with Santas.  We can all celebrate the holidays our own way.  I can tell you to have a "Blessed Christmas" and you can tell me to have a "Happy Solstice."  I find it interesting that the same people who preach "tolerance" won't tolerate my beliefs.  Apparently, tolerance only applies when it's something that they believe in.  My beliefs don't count.

On a slightly related tangent, I think sometimes Christians go too far the other way and banish anything secular from their house.  I think there's a place for both.  I put only Christian ornaments on the tree but I didn't burn my secular ornaments.  Our plan is to get two smaller trees and when we have more room, to put them up and put the secular stuff on that.  I am making my daughters ornaments each year.  This year I'm making Zoé a Mickey Mouse and Adèle a Pooh.  I think you can have fun with the different ornaments as long as you don't lose sight of Jesus as the reason for the season.  I'm not pushing Santa Claus on them either.  It's a balancing act, just like everything else.

In conclusion, this is America.  Let's enjoy our freedom to celebrate the holidays whether you celebrate Christmas, Solstice, Hanukkah  Kwanzaa or nothing at all.  Let's just do it without stomping on other people.

Teapot progress

I stitched both the November and December teapots.

So here's what the banner looks like so far.  I just have to stitch the March teapot and the corner pieces.

We also hung up the stockings today.  We don't have a fireplace in this house (which is better because of the kids and it seems to help with the utility bill) so they're just on the wall.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

More Chrismons and a Christmas Tree

So, I'm mostly finished with my Chrismons.  Here they are:

Celtic Cross, the circle represents eternity

Baptism Shell

Four Corners Cross, representing the spread of the Gospel to the four corners of the world

IHS, the first three letters of Jesus

Noah's Ark, representing God's promise to never again flood the globe
Lamp, representing God's Word as a lamp (see Psalm 119)
Creator Star, representing the 6 days of creation, aka David's Star
Crown of Thorns, representing Jesus' suffering
I also put the tree up, and as promised, here are some pictures:

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Thanksgiving Baking

This morning, with the carpets drying from the Rug Doctor last night (oh, how clean they look!), I set out to bake my Thanksgiving goodies.  The rolls and sweet potatoes will have to wait for tomorrow but today I did my Pumpkin Spice Cake and my Pumpkin Pie

I made the crust last night.  I bake my pies in my 9.5 inch Pyrex pans.  My mom says her pie crust was always better in glass plus if you make your crust ahead of time and freeze it, the Pyrex can go straight from the freezer to your oven without a problem.  I make the crust from scratch.  I recommend the Crisco sticks and they make measure the shortening much easier.  No butter in my crust, just Crisco, salt, flour and water.

Then I got the rest of the ingredients together.  The sugar was in the cabinet.  I've gone Alton and went strictly Kosher salt.  Yes, I do used canned pumpkin because stewing your own just seems to be too much work.  I did that one year.  Never again.  Libby's works fine for me.

Here it is ready for baking.

And poppin fresh from the oven.  Don't it look good?

The pumpkin pie was my mother's recipe but the pumpkin cake I got from here.  I've never made it before.  I made my own pumpkin pie spice with her recipe (it's in the bowl).

She calls for Safflower oil by name but I discovered it this summer.  It's excellent to bake with as it has almost no taste.  And it will take higher heats.  I would have used it anyway.  And it's not terribly terribly expensive (definitely more than canola but so much healthier).

The cake called for a yellow cake mix.  The baker is from England and they really don't do box mixes so she got herself a Betty Crocker carrot cake mix.  I used this but omitted the carrot/raisin packet.

And a tip for people with brown sugar.  I store it in a Tupperware container.  My mother did as well.  Never got hard and clumpy EVER!  Accept no substitutes.

And it's ready to bake.

And mostly done.  I'm just waiting for it to cool so I can pour the topping over it.  Yum!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Epic Giveaway

...but not by me.  As I always poke around for more interesting blogs to follow, I found Epic Stitching who is giving away a HUGE giveaway.

She also has a nice Etsy store.  Lots of bracelets.  Some finished cross stitching. I like this one:

And this one:

Blog Hop #12

The prompt:  When it comes to the stitching part of your life, what are you most thankful for?

At this juncture, I am thankful that I actually can stitch.  Last year, I didn't think I was going to be physically able to.

I've had a rough couple of years.  In the first two years of my marriage, I had two children.  I also worked full time for T-Mobile as a tech rep.  I used to work the normal 8 hour per day workweek but right before Adèle was born, I started working 4 10 hour shifts.  It was nice because you get three days off but it does make for a long day.  It was a call center so I was basically chained to a desk with a headset on (I always thought of it as a dog collar) and I was constantly typing and using my mouse because all the info on the phones is in the computer and I always had to document the account. The job sucked.  I basically got verbally abused for 8-10 hours per day because most customers in tech support aren't happy because the phone is not working.

Early last fall, I started to have horrible pains in my hands.  I was working on hand quilting a panel quilt for my daughter (which I haven't finished).  I finally went to the doctor and had my fears confirmed:  I had carpal tunnel.

Carpal tunnel is kinda the death knell for pianists.  I had always been afraid of getting it.  Being a pianist, I knew how to hold my hands properly at the keyboard but my doctor said it was probably a combo of typing so much and the two pregnancies where my weight was fluctuating up and down and I had had problems with my hands swelling.  I got braces and took and anti-inflammatory for the pain.  T-Mobile (who really is a nice employer despite the horrible job) got me an ergo keyboard and mousepad.  But I was in a lot of pain.  I couldn't stitch much at all (if you look back at my blog archives, there isn't much there for Sept, Oct, Nov and Dec).  I tried to play piano but my hands felt so weak that I almost had a nervous breakdown.  It was not a good time.

God answered my prayers on this one and with using the ergo keyboard, the pain gradually went away.  I am pretty much pain free at this point.  I was able to resume stitching in January.  Since losing my job in June, I think that has improved things too as I'm not typing 10 hours a day anymore.

Visit all the blogs in this round of the Stitching the Night Away Stitching Blogger Blog Hop:
Find the instructions on how to participate in this round by clicking here.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Guest Blogging and a Flat Finish

My first guest post for "Stitching the Night Away" is up today.  You can read it here.

I got up the courage to attempt to turn my Holly Heart Mill Hill piece into a flat finish.  I left 1/2" around the sides and I was able to flip it successfully without damaging anything.  It's looking nice.  I didn't put a kickstand in the back but next time I'm at SCRAP, I'll be looking for some nice border cording.

Can you believe Thursday is Thanksgiving?  I totally forgot!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Holly Heart stitching finished

I finished up the stitching on Holly Heart last night.  Just have to figure out how I'm going to completely finish it off.

Sorry, not the best picture in the world.  I also had an idea last night for a new Sola Scriptura design.  We'll see if I can get it started.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Mill Hill Progress

Here is what my Holly Heart looks like

I am thinking about finishing it as a flatfold but I'm not sure how easy that will be with the beading.  Any suggestions?

I haven't been stitching on it much because I'm trying to finally beat Final Fantasy III for the DS which I have never finished in the 4 years that I've owned the game.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Some Finished Chrismons and a New Mill Hill Project

I finished another set of Chrismons and here's what they look like

Grapes (yeah, I know they don't quite look like grapes in this color scheme), a symbol of Holy Communion

Manger, representing the manger that Jesus was laid in when he was born and symbolizing his humility

The Chi Ro, the first two letters of Christ, known in history because it's the sign that Constantine saw in a vision and was told "in this sign conquer" so he put it on the shields of his soldiers and he won and so Roman became Christian

The Crown of Life, referred to in Revelation

The Triangle, representing the Trinity (3 persons in one God = three sides to a triangle...)
The Triangle with a circle, representing the eternal Trinity because a circle has no beginning and no end
I'm working on the last page that I have now and I have some where the stitching is completed but it is not "all the way finished."  But I decided to take a bit of a break and do this cute Mill Hill kit

It has a bit of an indentity crisis because the front says "Holly Heart" but the instructions say "Candy Cane Heart."  It looks look a Holly Heart to me so I'm gonna stick with that.  Here are some progress pics:

When I was sorting the beads, I spilled some of the champagne and gold PETITE! beads on my white carpet. Not fun!

Friday, November 9, 2012

Some Guest Blogging

So, I'm going to be guest blogging on Stitching the Night Away.  My introduction was up yesterday and you can read it here.

I've actually been stitching stuff but have been so busy with my loom knitting presentation and doing all this paperwork for UNT and therapists for the girls and an ARD for Zoé that I haven't posted or taken any pictures.  I'll try to remedy that this weekend.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Blog Hop #11 Interesting and Unusual Stash

What has been your most unusual or most interesting stash acquisition to date?

Lately, my stash has been provided by one store:  SCRAP.  SCRAP is a "creative reuse store."  Basically, a thrift store for craft stuff.  Awesome deals.  So awesome in fact, that I have my own album in the side bar where you can see the cool stuff that I've picked up there.  We're talking Mill Hill kits for $2.

Visit all the blogs in this round of the Stitching the Night Away Stitching Blogger Blog Hop:
Find the instructions on how to participate in this round by clicking here.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Dia de Los Muertos

I actually remembered it this year.  And I remembered to pick up some pan de muertos in Denton.

Mmm. Fresh baked too.

I also finished this kit that I got at SCRAP for $2

They will go great on the Christmas tree.

And finally, I started a scarf.  Hoping I have enough yarn to finish it.