Wednesday, December 28, 2011

True Confessions

Today, instead of waxing eloquent on our awesome Christmas holiday, I thought I would have a moment of confession. After all, in just four days we turn the page on a New Year...and confessing is good for the soul.

Confession 1 - 

Of all the gifts I made this year, these little owls were a great source of pride, I just LOVE them. Made of wool felt, hand embroidered and stuffed with cotton. Seriously thinking of making a pair for myself, but I know they just wouldn't be the same...

Confession 2-

I spent a ridiculous amount of time on the front steps last week. But the best morning of all was Christmas Eve. It was a little chilly, enough to need a hat and a blanket. Kona came out with me and while I fed her treats I ate the BEST breakfast: homemade bread and jam, a gift from our neighbor. So good. All of it.

Confession 3- 

I may have had more than two pieces.

Confession 4 - 

I received the perfect tri-fecta of gifts this season. Gingerbread coffee, a new NC mug, and a french press. Lets just say that I have had more than my fair share of coffee in the last three days.

Confession 5 -

All the decorations are put away boxed... putting boxes back in the attic is man's work.

One box that came down from the attic this year wasn't Christmas stuff. As a matter of fact it was an unpacked moving box left from our move in 2007. Yes, five years ago. We've moved twice since then.

Obviously we weren't too worried about unpacking it. It contained BIG (seriously, the biggest I have ever seen) pine cones, and some "magic" glitter. Oh, and also, some fine glitter that I decided to keep in the 4 ounce breast-milk bottles I used back-in-the-day.  Of course re-purposing old things for new storage is nothing new... you may remember the time I used the cookie jar to house our new fish.

Confession #6 - (and the real reason I called you all here today.)

Somebody (who shall remain nameless) should have probably been on the Naughty List instead of getting all those nice coffee related gifts.

It seems, while decorating gingerbread houses and people this year, things got out of hand. In the alleged culprit's defense, there were two gingerbread people that came with the kit,  and it was unanimously decided one cookie would be The Mister, and the other would be His Wife.

The decorator of The Wife took creative license by use of Milk Duds. A girl can dream right?

She nearly blew her cover when she posted this picture online a couple weeks ago:

This was the original picture and it was quickly removed from the Internet due to inappropriate nature (and children who are easily embarrassed.)

It was quickly replaced with this one:

Thankfully, Kona the Wonderdog ate The Gingerbread Wife (Milk Duds and all) while the family was at Christmas Eve service, making all evidence null and void, and saving me her from the naughty list.

Whew! I feel better already!

Happy last Wednesday of the Year!

Monday, December 26, 2011

Merry Christmas 2011

Click on picture to see up close!

From the Little Yellow House on the Hill to yours, Merry Christmas!

The picture above is the poem from this years Christmas card, along with current pictures of each of us... Of course,The Mister likes to keep his anonymity here at La Vida Dulce, so this year The Girl painted his picture instead.

Blessing on each of you who read this... May you find true Joy in this season.

With Love,

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Tamales 2011

The last time I made tamales on my own is was December 13, 2005.

Six years ago. 

Of course, that wasn't the last time I made tamales. I have had a couple of Christmases at my Arizona home since then.
Christmas 2010 - at my parents house.

But never again have I made them by myself.


It's not that tamale making is exceptionally difficult.

It's not.

It's not that it takes a lot of preparation and makes a big mess.

It does.

It's that tamale making is more than the outcome.

It's about family time and tradition, about celebration and being together.

Tamale making just isn't fun when doing it alone.

When the CarPoolQueen mentioned that she was up for some tamale making, I was very excited.

Today we will skip the yarn isle, and head to CPQ's kitchen.

Anybody who has made tamales knows that there is nearly always a story that rolls through this happy event... and anybody who has read CPQ's blog, or spent some time with her knows that with her there is always an adventure, with laughter and fun... I cannot wait to see the stories this day will hold.

Happy Wednesday!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Crochet Christmas

I've been meaning to show this to you for over a week now.

One evening I was at my neighbors house and she had a crochet Nativity set displayed on the coffee table.

Y'all, I had to hold myself back I was so excited! I asked (as casually as I could) to take a picture.

I cannot imagine all the work that went into this set. It is perfect. Right down to the removable shepherds hats and baby Jesus. Amazing.

I could have played with them all night (especially those sweet sheep!), but being a near 40 year old, I thought I would mind my manners.

Happy Tuesday!

Friday, December 16, 2011

"The Rose I Have In Mind"

"It came a floweret bright,
amid the cold of winter,
when half spent was the night."

Years ago, when we bought the Little Yellow House on the Hill, I didn't know that the little green bush on the edge of the driveway was a gift...until one day their pink and yellow blooms opened just when I needed them.

I soon learned this winter-happy plant is a Camellia, my favorite flower because she is the most beautiful when all the world is closing up. As temperatures drop and leaves fall; when suddenly, as if overnight, the world lacks colorful life, the Camellia "bursts into bloom" and is glad. She knows harsh weather and frozen earth won't be her end.  She sits beneath the protection of a hardwood tree, her leaves green and hearty, flower-faces pressing toward the sun.

It would be enough, this little spot of encouragement, but our hill holds an abundance of flora favor.

There is also the Camellia Tree.

She lives close to the house, offering her brilliant blossom in the last weeks of winter.

If I am not careful, I can be driven by the changing of cold and bitter winds, my heart wandering into places of despair. It is in these moments I'm prone to ponder: will winter never end?

The Camellias encourage me to push through to the promise of warmer, more colorful days.

Last winter, when we had storm after storm, more snow than I had seen in my lifetime, I prepared my heart for the worst. It was too much to hope for beautiful blossom on the Camellia tree when ice had frozen her limbs.

I was wrong.

Winter made her stronger. More vibrant and fruitful than ever.

There is hope in the winter... even when we think all is lost.

I want to be like the Camellia, facing winter with strength. Finding a place to thrive under the protection of the Tree of Life. Inspiring hope in those who walk through seasons of their own.

The Camellia is but a glimpse of the beauty and mercy of our Creator, who in the face of all the most beautiful things on earth, will remain the Loveliest of all lovely things, because He Himself is Love...

These little plants in my yard, here today and gone tomorrow, are but a shadow, but they do remind me of the Christmas story.

There is One who came to us, on the coldest of nights, through the deadliest of winters, in the darkest of seasons... to all people.  Prince of Peace, Mighty God, Jesus Christ, Savior.

We can lift our faces upward and see the beauty in our winter because He is living Hope: yesterday, today, forever.


Lo, how a Rose e’er blooming from tender stem hath sprung!
Of Jesse’s lineage coming, as men of old have sung.
It came, a floweret bright, amid the cold of winter,
When half spent was the night.

Isaiah ’twas foretold it, the Rose I have in mind;
With Mary we behold it, the virgin mother kind.
To show God’s love aright, she bore to men a Savior,
When half spent was the night.

The shepherds heard the story proclaimed by angels bright,
How Christ, the Lord of glory was born on earth this night.
To Bethlehem they sped and in the manger found Him,
As angel heralds said.

This Flower, whose fragrance tender with sweetness fills the air,
Dispels with glorious splendor the darkness everywhere;
True Man, yet very God, from sin and death He saves us,
And lightens every load.

O Savior, Child of Mary, who felt our human woe,
O Savior, King of glory, who dost our weakness know;
Bring us at length we pray, to the bright courts of Heaven,
And to the endless day!

(15th Century Carol)

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Christmas Past

This weekend The Boy came home from a Christmas party and told us about a "cool gift" he saw during the gift exchange.

He described it as a sculpture of Spongebob that you spread seeds on so grass will grow.

The Mister and I smiled at each other and sang at the same time: ch-ch-ch-Chia Pet!

I told him that those had been around for ages, only back in the day we didn't have the fancy characters as-see-on-TV. We just had plain old terra cotta animals of unknown origin.

I remember the year I got one for Christmas. Unfortunately, I killed it. I wasn't much of a green thumb back then.

Anyway, this conversation led me down a long walk through memory lane...

There was that Christmas all I wanted was a pair of Keds and a Swatch watch. Oh! and a crimp iron to fix my otherwise straight-as-a-board hair. It knew it would take me hours to crimp my hair, but I didn't care because I just knew I would look amazing with teased-out bangs and a banana clip.

I'll never forget the Christmas my mom and I decorated a bunch of sweatshirts in iron-on holiday decals and puff paint. Oh puff paint! I loved that stuff.

In the years that go way back, I asked for Blueberry Muffin to go with Strawberry Shortcake, and felt a Care Bear was just what I needed to go with my stuffed animal collection... I won't even mention the year I wanted a Cabbage Patch doll but there were none to be found at our local Kmart (Target? Walmart? What were those?) I quickly got over my sadness as I played with my Simon (bought from the Radio Shack) and watched my brothers play Frogger and Donkey Kong on the Atari.

I will admit that the year I got a Rubik's cube I was pretty excited, until I figured out that that puzzle was really difficult to solve, and it was easier to just pull the stickers off and place them back in order. Except you never really could get the stickers to look new again... which was a bummer.

There was the year when I got the Debbie Gibson album, and Tiffany, and Wham!, and spent the rest of the year singing Bangle's Eternal Flame, in between rounds of Walk Like an Egyptian and Just Another Manic Monday. I'm not talking downloads here... I'm talking genu-ine tape cassettes that you had to flip over to hear Side 2.

 I could go on and on... so instead you tell me: What do you remember, from back in the day, that you wanted from dear Old Saint Nick?

Happy Tuesday!

Monday, December 12, 2011


Good Monday Morning!

As soon as I finish this post I plan to get online and finish my Christmas Shopping.

Then I am going to order Christmas cards, (oh! I am woefully behind this year!)

Then I am going to lock myself in my office and finish the handmade gifts I was supposed to finish this weekend, but didn't...because I did something I shouldn't have done.. but did anyway.

Make sense?

In August of 2010 I started this project, then I put it in a drawer and forgot about it.

Honestly, its a simple case of out of sight, out of mind... until I remembered! And had to get it done.

So that's what i did.

Then I decided I should make one of my little birds... you know, the one I doodled a couple years ago when I was supposed to be doing something else? (hmm, I'm seeing a pattern here)

Well, I made her into a little ornament and put some sparkle on her wing.

She's all dressed up for her place in the tree. I know she is just a wool felt ornament, but i love her.

I also finished up my LVCG (La Vida Coffee Gal) coffee mug. She isn't hand embroidered. My  Brother (the monogram machine) helped with this one.

Side one:

 Side two:

Now that those are finished... I hope to whip out a couple of ornaments as gifts based on one of my beloved decorations:

This angel has hung on my Christmas tree my whole life. I cannot remember a Christmas without her. I don't know who made her or what Christmas she came to live on our tree, but when I was a kid I used to sit and stare at her, all glittery and beautiful under the lights. I used to wish I could wear jewels on my dress too.  It's funny, I just (right this moment) noticed that she also has glitter on her wings...

I am going to try to make a few copies of this ornament this week. Let's hope it doesn't take 17 months to finish them.

All right, time to put on my glitter wings teacher face and wake up the natives.

Happy Monday!

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Brown Eyed Girl

If you ever have to have a minor "surgical" procedure that requires you to wear a bandage on your face for a week, I recommend three things that will help you through:

1. Flesh colored bandages for camouflage.

2. A large purple flower, worn in the hair for distraction.

3. One brown eyed girl who who has your back, in accessories and band aides, with generous amounts of love and concern.
Having "beauty marks" removed is really not a big deal.

But if you have to do it... these three things will make it all a lot better.

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

The Tall Friendly (banana eating) Monster

This post is long over-due.

Sometime back in late August the people who live in this house were having a rough day.

Well, actually, we weren't all having a bad day, just my oldest offspring and me.

It isn't easy to be fourteen, nor is it easy to be his mother. Watching teenage angst in someone you love is nearly as bad suffering from it. The only consolation of teenage angst in adulthood, is the knowledge that this whacked-out time in life doesn't last forever... it just feels like it.

The Boy and I had spent most of the early morning discussing important issues and I knew that before he set himself to schoolwork he might benefit from a moment to think about something else... anything else that might help him get his mind off his circumstances.

You might recall that I have the gift of  Thinking Random Thoughts at Inappropriate Times, such was the case in the midst of that deep and long conversation with my son. I remembered that my blogging friend Lisa of  Lisa Photography  had recently posted about her husband's new blog. I was familiar with Scott's work as he had been the creator of Lisa's blog headers, which were always amazing. I was happy to click over to see more.

Once I clicked over to Art in the Margins I knew that I had to show The Boy (who has an interest in drawing/sketching) but I forgot to tell him.

Until that wonderful, angst-y, morning.

Soon The Boy was clicking away and laughing out loud, and saying things like: You gotta see this one mom! and This one is my favorite and Have you seen this one?

I decided to comment on one of Scott's posts. I didn't relay any of the mornings dilemma, but simply told him my son enjoyed his work.

Scott did something that completely changed the course of the day: he encouraged a young man.

He sent the The Boy a few questions to answer, and based on those questions he drew up a sketch and sent it to him.

The picture above shows the sketch unframed but it is now in a frame and hanging in his room.

The Boy thinks it is an awesome personalized piece of art by a cool artist.

His mother thinks it represents a day when encouragement came just when we needed it.

The Boy and I thank you for giving us the
It is an amazing sketch and a generous gift, 
and we are so proud to have him living here!

Kellie and The Boy

Monday, December 05, 2011

December: Random Thoughts from Kellie's Brain

At some point I am going to figure out how to incorporate blogging into my weekly schedule.

I used to write Monday- Friday in rain, sleet or snow, and take the weekends off to think about what I would write the next week. 

Now maybe I should write on weekends and take the week to decide what I will write.

Yes, I think that might be a good idea. 

Today I am blogging in an attempt to avoid the grocery store.  I am currently eating a slightly green, near blooming, baked potato. It was the only thing left in the cupboard, aside from some spices and jumbo sized marshmallows. 

I would have eaten the marshmallows if it didn't break the "no dessert for meals" rule. Especially since I  had ice cream for dinner last night. 

Speaking of last night, we attended the nicest Christmas Cantata at our church and honestly, it completely turned my Christmas Spirit around. It's not that I was Grinch-y in my thoughts or feelings, quite the contrary, I love this season and all its glitter and lights. But I do have to say I was walking through the motions of this season without a good deal of thought as to the Reason I do the things I do.
Yesterdays Sunday school class and sermon were both just fantastic, and it tied in so well with the evening Cantata. It was a wonderful day that has carried into this morning and creates a great anticipation for this time of celebration. 

I haven't written much about our new church mostly because I know it was difficult for those we love and care about when we left our old church home. But also because part of the process in this new place has been deeply personal, something I haven't yet had the words to share. 

I am still putting my thoughts together and hope to write about it in the coming weeks, but the truth is I have felt spiritually dry for quite some time and in the last months I have felt a green wick within myself begin to grow and stir. 

I know this could have happened at any time in any church, but I feel that in the Providence of God, it is in this time and place. I am learning so much about God as he works in me and in those he has placed in my life in this moment. 

For instance, this weekend... There was the first Celebration of Artists event on Saturday. I spent weeks getting ready for it. 

Honestly, I didn't actually sell much of my stuff, but I came home richer

I was encouraged to hear those in leadership building up others who are artists by divine appointment.  It was moving to hear others speak Biblical truth about beauty and those here on earth who are privileged to create it. I was blessed to hear speakers who appreciate art , not as little things that artsy people create, but those who bring glory to God through the gifts He has given. I don't think I have ever heard a Christian prospective of the artist that isn't in some aspect condescending. This weekend I realized that creativeness can be (and is!) just a mere shadow of the beauty God has created, but a reflection that is glorious when it reflects Him. 

I don't know the why's behind my long, dry spiritual drought, but I do know that I feel I am drinking large gulps of Living water, and I'm starting to perk up! More thoughts on this soon...

One more little random thought...

This year while decorating the tree I will admit I had a moment when reality hit me, and if I had thought too long I might have wept.  For years our tree has been "bottom heavy" with decorations. In the early years, when the kids were little and low swinging ornaments proved too tempting, I would move them up and out of reach.

When the kids were old enough to leave things alone, I kept the decorations right where they were. Afterall, little children come to an age when they know you've undone what they did. This became a joy each year: my ornaments weren't perfectly placed, but there would be no denying it had been decorated with a kind of love that only comes from little hands.

This year, for the very first time in my parenting career, I had to tell the kids to put more ornaments on the bottom of the tree. For the briefest of moments that truth made me sad. It all goes to quickly and I am greedy enough to want more...

However my sadness couldn't last. Not with these two around.

There was a bit of confusion as to whose turn it was to hang the Christmas Star this year. I left them to figure it out. Soon there was laughing and cackling from the living room so I thought I better investigate.

This was apparently the best option because "no one had to be inconvenienced by going to get the ladder."
All right, enough procrastination!
I better get to the store, the natives are getting hungry.

Happy Monday!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Goodbye November

And like that {snap} Thanksgiving is over.

In my minds eye, I am clinging, scrambling, holding on with all my might, to the edge of this 29th day of November. Hoping that if I just hold tight enough to this day (and the next), the month won't flip over quite as easily... but it will and that's OK. I just that I do love November so.

I've spent the last several weeks enjoying my morning coffee on the front steps. It amaZes me that in  just 15 days the view went from this: this:

Now I find myself going out of the way to find things to feast my eyes upon... things to remind me the season of winter will be short... but that is for another post. Perhaps tomorrow...

We had a lovely Thanksgiving. Sharing the day with family and friends. It went too quickly, but I am grateful for it all the same.

The Mister had the holiday (and all this week) off from work, so we have lots of walking and hiking.

We couldn't believe that it was warm enough to be outside to be in short sleeves and without shoes.
The kids spent thirty minutes catching crawdads...

... while The Mister and I rested and talked about how quickly these kids have grown. 

Actually, I think The Mister was just grateful to be able to sit for a minute. He had spent most of the weekend putting up Christmas lights on the house. He did a fantastic job too.

The same night we put up all the lights the sky turned our little acre into a pinkish wonderland. I looked to the sky and the sunset was amazing.
Not something we see every day in the Piney Woods.

These are the reasons I'm sad to see November go.

But I'm also sad because it means I've run out of time to prepare...

This coming Saturday I volunteered to be part of a Celebration of Women Artists at our church. Which is a fancy way of saying I'm selling my stuff in a very nice craft show. I have spent the last several days sewing and hooking like C-R-A-Z-Y. The more I make, the closer I get to the big day, the more I panic a little bit... people are going to realize that I'm not an artist.

Hopefully I can cover my insecurities with crocheted flowers.

That is a small glimpse of the last week of November in the Little Yellow House in the Woods.

I hope December doesn't go so fast...

Monday, November 21, 2011

Gratitude in a Change of Plans

I'm finished. And yet, the week has just begun!

I have everything I need to make dinner on Thursday and I do not plan to be in (or anywhere near!)  a grocery store or shopping center until next Monday.

Do you think I can do it?

We are also celebrating a birthday this week. The Mister is turning another year older (and more good looking) and I am planning a birthday feast for Wednesday. To say we are going to eat well this week is an understatement.

To my great surprise, our Thanksgiving plans changed quickly this weekend, and we will have the privilege to share Thanksgiving with long-time friends. 

Providence has gathered a group of us, all from Arizona, but living (and visiting) in North Carolina. It all came together in a 12-hour flurry of emails and texts, and I amazed that a party of nine will sit at a table in the Little Yellow House on the Hill. 

I couldn't have planned this in advanced if I had tried.  I just feel thankful to have received an invitation.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Guest Post: Danger at the Wheel

Dear friends and readers,

My son, The Boy (as he's known here on the blog) was given the assignment to write a persuasive editorial on an issue he feels passionate. Honestly, I was surprised to see the topic he had chosen: Texting While Driving.  After turning in his assignment to his writing teacher at our homeschooling co-op, I asked if he would let me post his work here. I think it is particularly important information for those of us that may be tempted to pick up the phone to text or read texts (or otherwise be distracted) while operating a vehicle. Myself included. 

With love,

Texting: Danger at the Wheel
Texting while driving is dangerous and can be deadly. You may think that looking down to read or reply to a text is not a big deal, but it is. Statistics show that in just five-seconds of distraction allows a driver to travel the distance of 100 yards, which is the length of a football field. In this time any driver could be hit, rear ended or hit someone else. It’s like driving with your eyes closed. Can you imagine getting in your car, putting on a blind fold and expecting to arrive at your destination safely? 

According to a study by Virginia Tech University on driving distractions and cell phone use, a person texting while driving is twenty-three times more likely to crash or be hit than someone who is not using a cell phone. This is disturbing when statistics show that 50% of drivers between the ages of 18-24 acknowledge that they text and drive. As a matter of fact, in 2009 drivers under the age of 20 were the most distracted drivers, taking the lives of 5,474 people.

While these facts show that texting while driving is dangerous and deadly, above all its against the law. In June 2009, the legislative office of North Carolina signed a ban on texting while driving, making it illegal with the consequence of a $100 (plus court fees) fine. If you are a minor the fee is only $35. Law enforcers are not allowed to confiscate your phone, although personally, I think phones should be taken because it could make a stronger impact for the person texting. 

In 2008 nearly 6000 people died while texting at the wheel. This is a potentially deadly distraction that endangers not only the drivers life but lives of others too. As you can see, texting while driving puts precious lives on the line and could be solved by individuals believing the risks and putting the phone away while driving. 

Monday, November 14, 2011

Essential Post

This time of the year always zips by so quickly.

Its going so fast that at the end of each day I find myself with a long list of things that I wanted to do, but didn't get done. All "non-essential things" gets passed to the day ahead. Unfortunately, not all things are unessential, just more easily passed onto another day... blogging is one of those things.

Last weekend was a great one... the perfect blend of activity and rest.

Early Friday The Mister and The Boy took off for a long weekend of backpacking through the Great Smoky Mountains with some friends. The Girl and I took off for a day of shopping. After lunch and shopping we came home to get ready for a slumber party with our BritishBFF's, including (although not pictured) the mums.
We started the evening in matching pj's (moms excluded... we were happy to chat whilst the girls giggled and played) and cuddled up to watch the Sound of Music.

I'm quite certain that nobody was more excited about this slumber party than our youngest slumberer, who (I am delighted to say) can sing beautifully to every song in the musical right down to the last do-re-mi. However, right before we had tucked ourselves under blankets for a nights rest, she asked to sing me a song in Swahili (her dad recently came home from a missions trip in Africa.)

You may remember that there is nothing that moves me to tears quicker than a child singing. But a child singing God's praises in a forgein language? Water-works. Although I did my best to hold it in.  Best bedtime prayer ever.

After our guests left The Girl and  I tidied up a bit and had ourselves a movie day. I'm proud to tell you that from noon until nearly 11p., we watched five movies. Right in a row. And we crafted and crocheted and it was wonderful.

I managed to finish up the blue baby sweater.

Then I tried my hand at another baby sweater in some leftover yarn I had in my office.

It came out teeny-tiny... not quite preemie size, but definitely for a small newborn, the likes of which I have never seen (seeing as my babies were only slight less than 9-10 pounds at birth.)

While The Girl and I shopped on Friday I found some beautiful cotton yarn (on sale!) in a beautiful orange-burgundy and gold.  I didn't have a clue as to what I could make (especially since fall is almost over) but that yarn called to me like a long lost child waiting to come home.

So I bought it and made this:
Here's the back.
And a close up of the details:

Why am I making all these baby products?

Honestly, I don't know.

Maybe its because I can get them done in the length of one movie. Maybe I can't resist an end that is so adorable. Maybe its because there is a baby out there who needs something soft and cozy... who knows. But at some point I will know who needs/wants these things and it will make me happy to think that a little one wears something I enjoyed making.

Until then, I've already another project on the hook, but today its on the "non-essential" list... so you know what that means.

Happy Tuesday!