Thursday, January 14, 2021

Really Random Thursday, 1/14/21

 
It's 2021. I usually look forward to January 1. The Christmas decorations are down and put away. I look forward to decluttering the house, for a cleaner, fresher feel.

However...

We have been decluttering all.year.long. There is little left to clean up or give away. I did go through a few drawers and cabinets. I mean, there are always a few wayward things here and there. And then I turned my attention, as I usually do at the beginning of the year, to going through all my fabric and destashing. It serves two purposes. It reacquaints me with that I actually have, and also clues me in to fabric I know I will never use. I gave five big bags to my friend, Dotty, mostly larger pieces that can be used by our church quilting group for sashing, binding, and backing. It feels good to have more breathing room. I'm feeling ready to turn on the sewing machine. 

We were able to take our annual trip to the coast again this year, albeit with a smaller group than usual. Our good friends, the Isaacs, were unable to spend a day with us because they are not in our "bubble."

A change of scenery was just what we needed. The days were in the 60s, the nights in the 40s, with lots of blue sky and big waves.

We arrived on January 6, which turned out to be a day in history we will never forget, one of those "do you remember where you were when the Capitol was invaded?" kind of days. Unbelievable. And heart breaking.  This was the wine we drank that night.

Mark built a nice fire that night.

Charlotte and I always drive into Pismo Beach, go to the Hotlix candy store and take our pictures in their photo booth. Not this year, however. We did go to the candy store, and this year Levi came along with us, but the photo booth, while open and available, was not maintained/sanitized. So nope...

But never fear, says Charlotte. We took pictures and she turned them into a photo strip with some app she has.

The kids loved dipping their toes in the (cold) water.


One of Ella and Amelia's favorite pastimes this year was putting on makeup, using Amelia's Christmas gift.


The rest of us played games.


Or read. There was a lot of reading going on.

Beautiful sunsets each night.

More playing in the sand.



Walks on the beach (thanks for these pictures, Christa...)






Eating.

Chocolate chip pancakes made by Gramps.
Ruby loves her sourdough bread from a local bakery.

A tradition is that every morning, the kids come up to our room, which is a studio apartment over the garage, at exactly 7 a.m., and wake us up. It's a way for them to get extra screen time. Ha. Charlotte is at the age where she likes to sleep in, so most mornings 7:00 a.m. is not her thing. But she did come up one morning.
Going to the candy store has traditionally been a treat for just Charlotte and me, but this year, being a different kind of year, I took Gabe and Ella as well. They loved it because Hotlix sells a lot of candy containing crickets, larvae, ants, etc. Ugh. Not that they bought any, but they liked the thought of it.


On Thursday, Aaron got notification that he could get his COVID vaccination. In Madera. At 9:30 a.m. Even though we were three hours away, we all encouraged him to get the vaccine. So on Friday morning, he left at 5:45 a.m., received his injection, turned around and came back to the beach, getting there just a little after lunchtime. As an optometrist, he has close contact with patients all day long and we all feel better knowing that he has received the first vaccination. 

This year we had kites to fly, and Friday afternoon had enough wind.


On our last night, we had another great fire.

Of course we had to take our annual family beach pictures.

These funny, crazy, loud, silly people are the nearest and dearest to my heart. We all needed this change of scenery so much. I can't imagine being in a "bubble" with anyone else.

Welcome to 2021 here at Live a Colorful Life. Let's hope it's a good one. 

Thursday, December 31, 2020

Really Random Thursday, 12/31/20

Did you think this day would never come? As I've mentioned many times before, this year has seemed to drag and yet speed by simultaneously. And here we are on the cusp of a new year, full of possibilities. It's weird to look back at this day in 2019. So many people choose a "word of the year"--hope, focus, creativity. Who knew that what lay ahead would be something not seen in the last 100 years?

We mourn for all the lives lost, we hope the vaccine brings our world (that is what often boggles my mind--that the entire world is struggling) to at least the beginning of a more "normal" life, although I doubt that life will ever be as we knew it before the beginning of 2020. 

In the meantime, just a little recap of the last week of 2020 in the Wiens household. 

So....Christmas. We are not big gift givers. Our big family "gift" is a couple of days at the coast right after the New Year, a tradition we will once again enjoy since we are in the same "bubble." But I digress. Buying gifts is not the holiday activity that causes me the most stress. Not by a long shot. It is figuring out the annual Christmas scavenger hunt. Seriously. 

Years ago, my dear friend, Dotty, told me about the scavenger hunt she organizes each year for her grandchildren to find their gifts. I thought it was such a genius idea that Mark and I started having a scavenger hunt each year as well. The kids love it. It brings me more stress from Thanksgiving until Christmas trying to figure it out. Christa has told me multiple times that we don't have to do a scavenger hunt. But I think she forgets that the kids start asking about it as early as Thanksgiving! So...not having one is simply not an option. Our grandchildren range in age from 14 down to 7. The hunt must be hard enough for the two older ones, yet easy enough for the two younger ones. There was one year we had to come up with two sets of clues. Doubly stressful. 

Waiting for the hunt to begin...

This year, early in the month I read somewhere about stringing yarn throughout the house and making them follow the yarn to find their gifts. Four sets of yarn? At first we thought, bingo, that's IT! However, neither of us could sleep Christmas Eve thinking about the logistics of that.  At 3 a.m. Christmas morning I was busy googling scavenger hunt ideas. I found a site that had riddles (rather than rhymes) and so at about 3:30 a.m. I purchased it. At breakfast, we both said the yarn idea was garbage. I told Mark about the riddles and so here we were hours away from the "hunt," trying to figure it out. I mentioned that it was too bad we hadn't saved some toilet paper rolls to write the clues on, because that would be appropriate for 2020. Right? Mark reminded me that he uses toilet paper rolls to keep his electrical cords in order. We rounded up a couple, including a paper towel roll that we cut into thirds, and commenced writing clues on them.

We wrapped the first clue in some toilet paper and put it in a bag.

We told the kids they would have to work together as a team, and that the final clue was Ella's to solve: "Ella's favorite place two days a week," which is pretty much a joke--we hid all the gifts under the desk she uses for the two days she has school at our house--and it is most definitely NOT her favorite place. Ha!

We hid them behind a bunch of quilts.

Levi even reached behind all those quilts and actually touched one of those bags, but then said, "Nope, nothing here," before we told them all to go back and have a closer look. 

All in all, they said it was their favorite scavenger hunt to date. So much for last-minute planning. But I don't want to cut it that close next year, that's for sure! 

We had a delicious dinner. Aaron smoked tri-tip on his Traeger, Christa made potatoes, broccolini and bread, Mark made homemade applesauce, and Charlotte made individual cheesecakes with cherry topping. 

Our dishwasher is broken (thanks for that, 2020, although I realize a broken dishwasher is a First World problem), so Christa and the kids took care of the dishes.

New Christmas pajamas (not sure where Charlotte was at this point).
Aaron wrapped up the Oculus VR that we got the family back in September as an early Christmas present, as a reminder that it was a Christmas gift. :)
It was a fun and relaxing Christmas celebration, and we are grateful that we could spend it together.

In the last week, I have been going through drawers and cabinets like crazy. I could feel the decluttering feelings starting about mid December. Lots of things were donated to the thrift store (lots of games, and collectibles, like glassware and dishes, that are a thrifter's dream find) and lots of things were tossed (old cosmetics--who even wears makeup any more??). I still have clothing to go through and the ongoing sewing room organization, which seems to be never ending.

Our New Year's Eve celebration was different. We couldn't have dinner with our friends at a local Chinese restaurant, and then go pick up Ella to spend the night while the rest of the family spent the night with their friends and stayed up until midnight. Nope. None of that was happening. So instead we dressed up--at least from the waist up (we wore our comfy sweatpants), got some Chinese take out, put our kitchen table in the family room, lit a candle, and watched some movies (Soul--not a huge fan, Trading Places--always a good choice) while eating. It was a good way to end the year.

Thanks to all of you who have read some of these posts throughout the year, and especially those of you who leave comments. What used to be primarily a quilting blog has become more of a weekly diary of what's happening in my family, so I appreciate you so much. I realized as I wrote this that there are at least five quilts I finished in 2020 that I never even posted about. So here's to hoping that 2021 will be a return to quilting as well. 

As usual, stay safe and healthy. Hope to see you in 2021.


Thursday, December 24, 2020

Really Random Thursday, 12/24/20

 

Here we are, Christmas Eve. All holiday celebrations will be, or should be, unlike anything we have experienced before. Seeing family and friends from afar, on Zoom, or not at all. Thankfully, vaccinations have begun and there seems to be a glimmer of hope, at the same time that hospitals are devastated, operating at full or above-full capacity and often with reduced staff. 

This year, Mark and I have spent more time driving around and looking at Christmas lights than any year I can remember. Two reasons--we have more time, and we need some Christmas cheer.

Last Thursday night, we drove to the fairgrounds, which had set up a light show. We weren't expecting much, to be honest, and were pleasant surprised. It took longer to go through the lights than we anticipated and they were really pretty.




It was kind of weird to be driving through all the wide sidewalks that are normally teeming with people during the Big Fresno Fair. 

Last Thursday was the last day of classes here at Wienskler Academy West Campus. It was also just a few days before Ella's 7th birthday, so the cafeteria director (aka Mark) decided we should have a special lunch for her, and also to celebrate the upcoming Christmas break. Three glorious weeks without class!! But I digress.

While Monday is always Mac and Cheese Monday, on Thursdays Mark often opens up the lunch choice to the kids. They requested his special and yummy crepes.

I found some cute peppermint napkins at Hobby Lobby, although to be honest they were kind of weird and strangely ineffective.


Gabe likes to add toppings and then wrap his crepe up like a burrito.
Not sure how many this kid had. I lost track. As he keeps reminding me, he's a growing boy. No kidding. 

In the afternoon, Charlotte made hot chocolate bombs. Have you seen this trend? They are really cool! You coat a silicone mold with good quality chocolate, put hot chocolate mix and marshmallows in one half, "glue" the other half on top with melted chocolate and then decorate the top. When you are ready to serve them, you put one in a mug and pour hot milk on top.  They break apart, you stir it around and you have a yummy mug of hot cocoa. As a side note: she made a huge batch as party favors for Ella's birthday party. Since that time, she has gotten numerous requests and is now selling them for $5 each. Something to keep in mind if you have a kid who wants to earn some money. So many possibilities--they aren't just for Christmas.





In the afternoon, Ella and Gabe also made some glitter ornaments. I have made these with each of the kids. They are quick, potentially messy, but always cute. It just takes clear ornaments, swishing some Johnson liquid floor polish (it HAS to be the bottle with the blue lid) inside the ornament, dumping it out, and then pouring glitter inside and twirling it around. 

Haha.


The other night, the doorbell rang and it was the delivery of a very oddly wrapped package, a strange shape and covered with neon pink and green duct tape. It was addressed to Mark.

Now anyone who knows him, knows he is a Minnesota boy through and through. Favorite potato chips? The ONLY choice is Old Dutch. I have to agree with him. A high school classmate, Tom Hanson, someone he really only sees every five years at their high school class reunion, had found this vintage metal Old Dutch tin and sent it to him. And yes, there were two bags of chips inside! It is quite large and really needs to be displayed somewhere in our house. We have kind of settled on my sewing room, where I will likely store fabric scraps in it. Old Dutch makes many different flavors. We got a large bag of the classic, and a smaller bag of  Buffalo Mac and Cheese. They were tasty but they sure had a "bite" to them. :)
Haha.
Monday was Ella's 7th birthday. She is really into Mr. Beast, a popular You Tuber. Ever heard of him? Yeah, us either. Until Ella educated us. I was able to find this cute Mr. Beast t-shirt. 

In these days of COVID, you have to get creative when it comes to kids' birthday parties. They can't celebrate with their friends but they definitely need a celebration. Aaron and Christa had organized a light parade. About ten of her friends and their families decorated their vehicles with lights and slowly drove by Aaron and Christa's house. There was much honking and waving. It took her awhile to figure out that the light parade was actually for HER. That was the same night of the "Christmas Star" sighting, and that was the excuse they used for being outdoors.

Glow stick decorations.
Jason and Jill even had a Christmas tree on top of their truck. Yes, Amelia is a little blurry. She is a girl who is always on the move...

A few years ago, we found these battery operated lights that spelled out her name--they were perfect for this celebration.
On Tuesday, Ella came over for ice cream and a Christmas movie, to continue the celebration.

We also looked through the Christmas Look Alike book by Joan Steiner. One of my very favorites, where "the more you look, the more you see!" I highly recommend her books. And for some reason, Ella had never seen this Christmas version.



And Tuesday night, it was Charlotte's and Levi's turn to go down Christmas Tree Lane, with the top of Mark's Subaru open. I'll tell you it's a different experience with a 14-year-old and a nearly 13-year-old, compared to a 7-year-old and 9-year-old, but we had SO much fun with all of them.

Last night, Mark and I drove to another area of town that is known for the lights. The cars were backed up for a couple of miles but Mark knew a back way in. We only went down a couple of streets. There were just too.many.cars. But the lights were beautiful.


I hope in these last days of the year 2020, you remain stay safe and healthy, and are able to see the light rather than the darkness.