Friday, December 31, 2021

Really Random: End of the Year Edition

 How is December 31st? Only yesterday we celebrated Christmas. Seriously. Just yesterday. More on that later...

In the last week, I did some last-minute holiday sewing in preparation for our family Christmas. First up, drawstring bags in preparation for the annual gift scavenger hunt.

Pillowcases for annual new pajamas.

Zipper pouches for toothpaste and toothbrush when they travel (lined with laminated cotton so you can easily wipe them out--and this wasn't really a gift, just something I made during December).

Glitter pouches for Ruby and Amelia with some fun gel pens.

And this fun pillow, already gifted earlier in the month.

It was a nice change to make small projects that are easily completed. 

Christmas Day was just weird. Christa was in isolation after testing positive on December 18, so no family Christmas. Mark came down with a horrific cold, and on Christmas Eve was SOOOO sick. He had done a rapid test which was negative. But you know how you wonder if those home tests give you accurate results...

He could not get into Kaiser for a PCR test until Monday, which meant results wouldn't come in until Wednesday. We were antsy by that time. So on Christmas morning he made an appointment at a local testing center for an "official" rapid test. You pay the big bucks for these tests, but at least you get the results in an hour--negative!!  We were not the only ones getting tested on Christmas Day--the line was quite long, but the workers were very efficient.
So then...what to do for lunch. We had planned on grocery shopping on Christmas Eve, which of course did not happen. There was not much to eat in the house. And then we noticed that McDonald's was open. Hello, Christmas lunch... 

Traditionally, Mark and I go to Denny's for Christmas breakfast. We go to the same one each year, order the same thing, look around and usually pay for someone else's breakfast. Since we couldn't go for breakfast, because Mark had not yet been tested, we decided, no problem, we will go there for dinner. When we walked in, we were told the wait to get seated was at least 45 minutes, and then the wait for our food after ordering would be another 45 minutes to an hour. Um, nope...

As we drove home, we noticed another restaurant was open and decided to try there. The wait was short. The menu was limited, and each option was $24.99. We had been planning on getting the Grand Slam at Denny's which is usually not much. There was no way we were spending $24.99. We decided to split. It turned out to be a bargain, with a LOT of food. We had cheesy potato soup, a full turkey dinner and a piece of pumpkin pie. It was very good. 

As we moved through the week, this is sure how both of us felt. What day is it anyway??

Sunday we had brunch guests: Val and husband Matt, Jessie and boyfriend Timothy. Mark made crepes and we sat around the dining table and visited for four hours! As they drove off, I realized I had not taken any pictures. So they sent these to me. Good enough. These two girls have been a part of our lives for so many years and we love them so much. Matt is the icing on the cake. And we enjoyed getting to know Timothy. Can't wait to see them again!

Val and Matt
Timothy and Jessie

On Wednesday night, Mark had gotten tickets to Magical Cirque Christmas, a Cirque du Soleil kind of performance. I was kind of skeptical about attending, with the surge in cases, but everyone had to show proof of vaccination and wear masks the entire performance. It was very fun, and the acts were amazing!

It definitely got us in the Christmas spirit. 

On Thursday, the 30th, we finally were able to celebrate Christmas as a family. Remember those little drawstring pouches? For the scavenger hunt this year, we got four puzzles. Mark and I put them together, flipped them over, wrote a clue on the back of each one, a riddle that would need to be solved and ultimately lead them to their presents. Then we disassembled the puzzles and put the pieces in their respective bags.

We had some before-dinner snacks.

Kids assembled their puzzles.
I got the impression that puzzles are not Charlotte's favorite activity.
Levi put his together twice while he waited for the rest to finish.
But no turning them over quite yet. Instead, we took a break and had dinner. I was pretty happy with how the place settings turned out. And dinner was yummy.

We played a round of "would you rather..."
Then it was time to turn the puzzles over and try to solve the riddle of where to find their gifts (sorry for the dorky poems--my specialty, haha).  It turned out to be satisfyingly tricky for them. Ella was actually the first to figure out her hiding place--in the guest bedroom at the desk where she had spent nearly a year doing online school. 

We had hidden Gabe's behind the iron in my office. He is quite the riddler so I was really happy that it took him awhile to figure out that an iron is hot when it is working and cold when it is not...

Levi has walked past his gift for at least two months. We got him a set of weights. They were heavy so we put them on a worktable in the garage, covered them with a towel and of course he never once gave it a thought. 

I thought Charlotte would find hers right away. I knew the first place she would try was under some fabric in a bin that says "it needs stitches," but of  course that was way too obvious. We put them in a sewing bin that doubles as a little bench when needed. I think she opened every drawer in my sewing room except for that one...

It was really fun. At least, the kids said they enjoyed this year the most so far. 

Everyone receives books (something to read), pajamas (something to wear) and a third gift (something to play with). This year, Ella got a scooter, Gabe got a telescope, Charlotte got some makeup and nail polish, and Levi got his set of weights.

And then we celebrated with a delicious cherry pie made by Charlotte.
It was such a fun evening. We are so happy everyone was feeling well enough to finally celebrate in what continues to be this very strange time, now entering our third year. 

Even though this picture turned out a little blurry, I'm blessed to be surrounded by these people whom I love most in the entire world.
Merry Christmas from our house to yours.

Thursday, December 23, 2021

Really Random Thursday, 12/23/21

 Two days until Christmas. Are you ready? I still have a little bit of last-minute sewing to do. But I have more time than anticipated. Christa tested positive for COVID last week, despite being vaccinated and boostered. She has been isolating, so we will postpone getting together until after the 28th. Thankfully, because she has been vaccinated, her symptoms have been mild. I think the hardest part must be to isolate when you actually feel fine, especially this time of year. 

At the beginning of the week, I pulled out some fabric I have had for the longest time, a cool "wine stain" fabric." I used Jeni Baker's drawstring bag pattern (which I have probably made 50 times since it was released...), and made the wine bottle version (this size would also be great for gifting bottles of herbed vinegar or olive oil, etc.).

I added a few little extra touches--the "peace love joy" ribbon for the drawstrings and the sparkly "fabulous" label.

We also packed a cute little Santa bucket with cheese curds, crackers and fair trade chocolate, delivered it to the house, and then came home, and she and I FaceTimed for a lovely cocktail hour.

I just have four more drawstring bags to make and then I'm done with Christmas sewing.

It has been cold and rainy here. The other morning, Mark had to scrape ice off the windshield. I know that seems absolutely ludicrous to people living in places where they get buried in snow...

We had rosebuds that froze before opening.

But our snapdragons brave the freezing weather and will bloom all winter.

A couple of weeks ago, our pastor, Dustin, mentioned his deep and abiding love for the Golden State Warriors basketball team, and Klay Thompson in particular. I knew I had Warriors scraps, and I had just enough to make a new mask for him.

I'm more than happy to wear a mask any time I'm out in public. And I sincerely hope this does not become reality.

I've done a lot more reading this past year. I hope to finish a couple more books before New Year's Day, and then read even more in 2022. The Libby app, which connects my library card to digital books from the public library, has been largely responsible for my increase in reading.

Speaking of reading, our granddaughter, Charlotte, needs this t-shirt. She reads at an incredible pace.

We had lunch with our friend, Javier, and I sat in a Tesla for the first time.

Ella turned 8 on Tuesday! She is a bright and feisty little girl, we love her enormously and she brings so much joy to our lives.

Charlotte was able to come over for a couple of hours yesterday and we made pfeffernusse (peppernuts). My father always made several batches of these each Christmas. We used his recipe and I'm hoping to drop some off at his care facility next week (I'm not sure I'll be able to see him due to the uptick in the virus). I wonder if they will seem familiar to him...

In what may be the oddest Christmas tradition that Mark and I have--we try to go to Sequoia Brewing each Christmas. Why? Because I'm incredibly amused by how they "decorate" the ram. You don't need to tell me--I fully realize it's a weird tradition.

Do you burn candles more often during the holiday season? You know that weird ring of wax build-up you can get around the edges? Here's a hack.

 I tried it and the wax is once more nice and smooth around the edges. I should have burned it a little longer and it would have been smooth all the way to the edge.

This is just around the corner...

But before we put this year to rest, I wish you a blessed Christmas weekend.