Friday, December 31, 2010

Creative Card Crafting!!!

Summer has an eye for design! She LOVES to craft cards and they are each one a 'work of ART'!!

She made some beautiful ones for her traditional Christmas Letters this year.
This pic is of the INSIDE and I did, indeed, read my letter 'the night before Christmas!'

The outside of my card.....

The card she crafted for Louis Dean.....featuring musical notes!
She scarfed up the extra cards from her office and whipped these out in time for our
Family Dinner and the reading of our Christmas Letters to each other.

So last night Summer came over and I dumped out a box of cards I had collected through the year.

She added card stock and I contributed several pads of Scrap booking paper I purchased yesterday at Hobby Lobby at a 66% off discount!

Add more 'tools of the trade' in Summer's box of goodies and we were ready to GO!

With a paper cutter and a mathematical mind, she set to work!

In the time it took for dinner to cook we had seven cards all ready to write and send!
Each one crafted from parts of others and layered with card stock inside for easy writing!

I LOVE these!!! PERFECT for sending out my Christmas Thank yous!!!

Not only did she whip up MY cards but she managed to make several for herself.
It was a 'Done Deal' evening for her as she wrote some of her notes and got them ready to send!

Not only did we have a stack of beautiful cards by the end of the night......we also spent some quality time together. As a mother....I am always so honored and happy when my 'kids' want to spend time with me!
She not only stayed the evening but spent the night as well!!
AND.....she is coming back next week and bringing her embossing stuff!!!
I can't wait!!

Thanks, Summer!!! I had a wonderful time!

Monday, December 27, 2010

The After Glow.....

of the holidays continue! We still have New Years to look forward to and I will continue to enjoy the decorations for at least another week or so.

The Grand kids came over to spend the day. They talked Aunt Amber into playing Pet Shop for awhile before we headed off to the movies! Despicable Me was a GOOD movie! The kids got the moral of the story and explained it all to ME! They had already seen it a few times but were good sports about seeing it once again!

As soon as we got back Faith and Sam wanted to play Checkers in the gazebo. Faith said, "Since we ALREADY have our COATS on!!"

I took them out cups of hot chocolate with the marshmallows we had dipped in chocolate and coated with sprinkles. We also dipped pretzels in white chocolate for our snacks!

I LOVE playing NUTS! I have told the Grand kids they can play with the grownups when they are twelve years old! We can PRACTICE in the meantime and that is what we did this afternoon. They have the game rules down and are pretty good for beginners! I can't WAIT to have more NUTS fans in the family!

As we were finishing our card game Amber arrived to pack up her cats and head back to Katy!
We will miss Snowball......she was at the vet this morning and her blood sugar was 320! WAY too high!
Amber gives her injections every morning and evening.....the vet upped the dosage today.

July was not thrilled at having to travel yet again! We will be missing this little old lady as well!

All too soon they were loading up and......

heading out! Back to Katy with all FOUR of their pets! Snowball and July, of course, and their two LARGE labs! What FUN!! They will finally be all together in their new home!

We waved good bye......why do Mothers always get teary eyed when their kids go home?

We came back into our warm and cozy is COLD in Texas today!
Had a supper of potato soup, cheese and crackers.

It was a FUN day!

I put clean flannel sheets on our bed and have already turned on the heated blanket! Now to don my flannel nightgown and curl up by the fireplace to watch two episodes of The Closer!
A perfect ending to a PERFECT day!!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Christmas Letters, Sugarplums, Nuts and Chinese Gift Exchange.......

My FAVORITE Christmas memories of 2010!

Summer first began the tradition of Christmas Letters (or cards) back when Amber and Benjamin were babies! I have kept them all! I joined her in this tradition in later years. The first one I penned was to my mother and it continues to be the very FIRST one I write each year! Amber has since joined the ranks of Christmas Letter befits a writer by profession! These are very special to all of us. Once Summer told me,
"The only gift I really want from from you is my Christmas Letter!"

These were read after our Christmas Eve meal.....some aloud and most in silence.

I love the ones I received and will treasure them always....I keep them in my journals and often reread them throughout the years.

My next favorite memory of 2010 is the SUGARPLUMS!
I have been making Sugarplums since Summer was a baby!!
Sugarplums have been a favorite treat for ALL my children!
As far as I know....THIS is the FIRST picture I have of all FOUR of my kids rolling sugarplums!
I made the dough the day before and after it is well chilled you roll it into balls and then roll the balls in candy 'sprinkles'.  We divided it up and all four kids got to take their share home with them!
It is much like 'Chocolate Butter' as someone once described them!

All pics do not turn out as well as we would like! However, I DID want to be included!

After the Christmas Letters and Sugarplums.....NUTS is my favorite Christmas activity!
Or ANYTIME! I LOVE playing NUTS!!! A super fast card game Solitaire on steroids!

I USUALLY win!!! This!
Benjamin must have been saving up because he won FOUR games straight!
Amber finally got a win in for the girls (although it is an individual WIN teams!).
MIKE won the next round and he is a very deliberate player as befitting an engineer.....
 I don't believe he has EVER won before! Summer won one round but this Christmas Eve the males ruled!

I did not get very many good pics from our Christmas morning celebration at my sister, Nita's, home!
Their tree is beautiful....complete with a vintage train.....TWO of them circling the base! These are from the 1950's.
We all participate in what is called a Chinese Christmas Tree. Everyone brings a gift. You draw a number and go in order to open a gift from under the tree. The person holding #1 opens the first gift. The person who drew #2 can either open a new gift from under the tree OR take the gift opened by #1! This can get confusing! After three 'takers' the gift is frozen! We all have fun with this!
We came out out on the winning side this year!

I came home with TWO winners! TWO hand painted glass lamps! did a GREAT job on these! They are now in my bedroom and I LOVE them!

AND I was the ultimate owner of the desired 2011 Calendar made by Leah!
This calendar features some pretty cool 'vintage' pictures as well as current ones of our family!

Christmas with my daughters......Amber and Summer!

AND my sons, Benjamin and Jesse!

Grandchildren.....Sam, Levi and Faith!

Sabrina and PRIZE son in law of whom I did not get a single pic of him alone!

and......Baby Abigail Rayne Parks!!

The best of all gifts around any Christmas tree:
the presence of a happy family all wrapped up in each other.

Burton Hillis


Thursday, December 23, 2010

Christmas and Children.....

........they GO together!
Yesterday two of my FAVORITE neighborhood children came to visit!
We made attempted to make those Oreo Snowmen Cookie Pops....
which did NOT work out so well for us!

So we moved on to the Bacon and Eggs!
I get such a kick out of making these and I have been making them since the 1980's!
Brittany and Tray had to take the rest of the M & M's home with them......
I could only use the yellow ones!

The Marshmallows were a big hit!
We dipped the tops in chocolate then in sprinkles or chopped peppermint!
Perfect for hot chocolate!

They turned out so pretty!!

The kids did some other craft projects I had before their parents and baby sister arrived!
(I always plan TOO many projects!)

What a fun family to party with!! Summer in front with Nichole..
Christina, Tim, Tray, Brittany and Louis Dean.
Taking pictures is harder than one imagines!!

Before dinner we had a mini Christmas concert!
Pretty Paper, Angels Among Us and The Angels Cried.
We all participated and sang the chorus with him.
Louis Dean was a happy man!

Dinner was a simple meal of Potato Soup with extra veggies, a fluffy salad
and garlic toast. With all the heavy meals in store for the next few days I thought this would be good !
And it WAS!

My super cute daughter, Summer, who regaled us with stories of her youth!
She and Tim had a few memories about teachers in grade school who taught BOTH of them...
albeit several years apart! Summer is always a delight at any function!
This time she brought a Reindeer headband for me to wear!
Oops! I forgot to get a pic!

We ended the evening with Louis Dean reading 'How the Grinch Stole Christmas.'
This is his FAVORITE Christmas book!

We had a lovely Christmas Gathering and I am deeply grateful for these kids!
I love them dearly and recall the nicest thing said to me this year! It was from Tray.
I had stopped by their house and he ran out to the car to greet me (which made ME feel special).
I was talking to his mother about how it is hard to get all the boxes of decorations down and we are getting older.....perhaps Tray can help us next year since he is so young and STRONG! is what Tray said as he looked me straight in the eyes!!!
"Linda, I will ALWAYS be there for you."
He then REPEATED that same sentence!
Now you know the kind of family I have for neighbors!

Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

A Cup of Christmas Tea!

Last night Louis Dean and I sat out in the gazebo before bed and I read this little book to him.
I was still basking in the glow of hosting MY VERY OWN 'Cup of Christmas Tea'.
I could not help identifying with the 'old Great Aunt' in the story written by Tom Hegg in 1982.
No, I have not suffered a stroke and though I am definitely a SENIOR citizen
I still see fairly well and get out often. However, as I read, I realized that each and every person who attended my Tea last night had indeed each and every one given me an identical and priceless gift....

First of all to arrive was my pastor......who took time out of her busy schedule and the heavy duties and responsibilities she stop by for a little tea and chat. She and her husband had big plans for a dinner together and their son was coming in the next day. I am certain she had MANY things to do on a Tuesday afternoon four days from Christmas! And yet she gifted us with a little of that which is most precious.....time!

Then there was my 'new' friend, Heather! She works in the office where I worked for 3 years during a life changing period of time in my life. Not only did she gift me with her time, which as a working lady with TONS of things to DO..... time is in SHORT supply....she also gave me an AWESOME wall art! I could not BELIEVE it!!! "The Chapman Family   Bless this house with love and laughter."
She special ordered this and I can't wait til Amber gets home for Christmas so she can help me put it up!!
How special is THAT?? Heather is a beautiful lady and I am so fortunate to count her as a friend!
I look forward to many years of friendship ahead!

So I had new friends as well as ones I have known for a long in this beautiful lady, Brenda.
She and I attended church together for many years and as God has a way of working things out.....
we also worked together at Larry Dodson's State Farm office. She is so very dear to my heart and it was truly a gift to spend some time with her. She works, has a granddaughter and all that goes with being a wife and mother. Even when I no longer worked with her she made sure we did not lose our connection with each other. Every year she gives me a LANG calendar. It is almost a tradition....OK! It IS a traditional gift that I ALWAYS look forward to receiving.
 Each calendar over the years has been a source of inspiration in my art.

How I manage to NOT snap a pic of my beautiful niece, Leah, I do NOT know!!
When I was going through my divorce I would get off work at 5:00 and often head over to my Mother's.
That Christmas Leah (then in her 20's! and you know how social and busy THAT age group is!) came over and drove Mother and me around to see all the Christmas lights in Fort Worth. Many a time she joined us for a visit or a glass of wine and spent that valuable commodity - time- on US!
Now you talk about special people....Leah is so that!!

Another special lady I failed to get a photo of is my 'next door neighbor'.
Now that does not even BEGIN to describe the treasure I have found in  her friendship!
She is a beautiful lady. Louis Dean wants to adopt her! She and I have been neighbors for over 25 years.
Her son, Mark, recently graduated from Marine boot camp and is now and will forever be
my FAVORITE Marine!!
She stopped by for a brief chat as they were having a family Christmas dinner together before heading out of town.

Other guests included June in the green sweater whom I have known for-
gasp! can it really be forty years???? Such a dear and precious lady to me and all my children.
My son, Benjamin, has a special place in her heart and he has a soft spot for HER as well!! She came over directly after work and YES! although she is 'retirement' age.....she just keeps on working.
That reminds me of my Mother who worked up until the day she suffered a devastating stroke.

Then my daughter in law, Sherry, and her sister, Cindy. I love Sherry with all my heart.
She was such a source of comfort and strength to me during the period of time
when Louis Dean suffered a heart attack. Cindy is another 'new' friend and a movie buddy!
Sherry and Cindy left the tea party to return to the photo album they are making their parents for Christmas.
It was a real gift of their time to come and as always, Sherry started right in helping me in the kitchen.

My sister in law, Ruth Ann.....what can I say? She is the sister of Louis Dean's first beloved wife, Ellen.
What are the odds that I meet Louis Dean on eHarmony (he lived in Brownwood, Texas) and discover his SIL lives just a mile or two away? We have become good friends and I cannot imagine how I lived so long without Ruth Ann in my life!

In the background on the sofa is of Summer's childhood friends. We have reconnected after I ran into her at a Starbuck's last year and she RECOGNIZED me!! It has been like 'old home week' to quote Louis Dean ever since! She brought her sweet son, Sam, and he is adorable. I told him he could always come live with me if his mother got to be too much for him!! (just kidding, of course!)

Sam is gifted at origami!

I was so excited that my friend, Jo Ann came! She was Amber's Awana teacher years ago!
She is a beautiful lady inside and out! I might add she has an absolutely AWESOME husband!
She, too, came from work and he drove her, dropped her off, took himself to Braum's for a hamburger, came back and sat outside in the car PATIENTLY waiting for Jo Ann to finish her visit. He DID NOT call her or text her that he was waiting. Now THAT is one cool husband!

I also neglected to get a pic of Brenda....
I had not seen her in over 13 years! We reconnected by way of a neighbor who was walking her dog as I was walking mine. She was actually walking BRENDA'S dog whom she was keeping for the day. We got to chatting and talking and I mentioned where I used to go to church and one thing led to another. Facebook is a beautiful thing! That was how BRENDA and I 'friended' each other. It is such a small world.

Add my daughter, Summer, Sabrina and the baby.....well you know it was a great party!
They got off work, drove to Rockwall to pick up Abby and then drove all the way to Irving!
This was a very real gift of their time!
See Summer's cute Christmas cap?

She had more than ONE! This one sings and dances ON HER HEAD!

She even brought ME on! MINE has a tiara!

To top off a perfect evening my son Benjamin, who lives out in California, came!
It was SO good to see him!!!
This Christmas Eve I will have all four children and all four grandchildren here!

Can you tell I had a lovely time with treasured friends?
Of course not everyone could make it.....and you were missed!
We will be having another Cup of Christmas Tea next December....
and I so hope to see you then if not before!

Merry Christmas to all my dear friends and family!!

"Make new friends but keep the old.
One is silver....the other gold."