Holidays Coffee Chat: Ho Ho Ho, It's Nearly A New Year!
Oh Hello! Miss me this week? I missed you, too, but it was nice to take a bit of a break. I've been UN-decorating the house, taking down and putting away Christmas things. And then of course, I wanted to refresh the living/dining room/and entry doors but I ran out of steam before I got done. When I run out of steam, inspiration seems to die down hard as well. But do come in, don't mind the messy weather and is your weather being seasonal in the least? Ours isn't. Normally it doesn't look like the photo above either but it typically doesn't look like this:
Yes it has rained and poured but we had two sunny days, Christmas and Boxing Day.
I was invited, on Christmas Eve evening, to have dinner with John's partner and his wife and family. It rained heavily just about time to leave home, naturally, but I wasn't the only guest to arrive sporting the slicked back rained upon hair. It was a common enough look in the house, lol. It was a lovely evening with the bonus of getting to spend the time with my husband who naturally was at his partner's side come dinner time. Praises and blessings for a small county EMS allowed to take ambulances to their local home and wait upon calls there while they eat on holidays. Of course, they didn't stay, were there just for the dinner.
It was a pleasant way to spend what might have been a very depressing evening, what with all the heavy rain and it being a holiday and no plans for it overall. The most fun was the game we played after their family opened presents. It involved a pair of dice and a very well wrapped and taped package. We threw dice and whoever rolled doubles got to try their hand at opening the gift. Let me tell you, it was really well wrapped. Nothing but hands and fingers could be used. I watched muscles bulge on strong young men's arms trying to unwrap that package by sheer force...Only to discover once in the first layer that there was another well wrapped package inside! I think we went through five or six layers before the winner finally retrieved the prize inside. Yes, it was fun and random and quick paced overall. Good food, good company, a pleasant home, a long day... I was more than ready to head home in blessedly clearer weather.
And when I got here I made myself a nice cup of warm vanilla milk, plugged in the tree lights and sat here and just basked in Christmas. By the time I headed to bed, the next wave of storms was breaking. Pounding rain makes a wonderful lullaby.
Christmas morning was foggy but the sun broke about midday. John and I enjoyed our special breakfast. We sort of broke with tradition but not hard. Instead of canned cinnamon rolls we decided to have an apple fritter from the grocery store bakery. I warmed them slightly and had the sausage balls I'd frozen at Thanksgiving. It was very good and I decided that morning to have my special coffee, in the pretty tea-cup with my pretty little teapot and creamer. Lovely ritual. I used a little cup and saucer I'd found last year at a thrift store, a white swirl teacup with holly and berries on it. We partook of our breakfast in the living room before the lit tree. Very Christmas-y.
I didn't set our table prettily as intended for dinner. Instead we ate off our everyday dishes and do you know I didn't even think about my pretty table I'd planned until I was packing up Christmas decor! Well the food tasted just as good, I promise you it did. We purchased smoked beef brisket and KFC coleslaw and I cooked fresh corn on the cob and made a sugar free banana pudding. Oh it was so good! We had enough left over to make dinner Sunday when we came in from church.
I went over to my niece's that afternoon for a brief visit and enjoyed that very much. I hugged everyone as I was leaving and then when I got to the back door I said, once more, "Bye!" Bella jumped up and said "Bye?! What about a hug?" lol. Earlier Adi had reached up and grabbed my glasses. I gently removed her fingers and asked her not to mess them up. She looked up at me and babbled away, in a very serious manner. I felt sure she was apologizing. The girls are 2 and 1 and they are both different as can be, one blond one brunette, but adorable.
Boxing Day dawned foggy, too, but we hit a clear bit soon after we started our travels. We were off to see Katie and family and her new home. Oh the rivers were very high but I've seen them that high in the past. John and I set a sort of record on this trip. We didn't get lost even though we'd never been there before. We did have a misstep or two but we went by instinct which proved to be on target Saturday. It amused us when Katie texted 'Lost?' and we could reply, "Not yet." About 20 minutes later we arrived.
The day was just beautiful. Her yard was as soggy but we managed to walk just around the house and I identified plants for her as much as was possible. The house is very nice and neither too open nor too closed off. There's so much light inside which Katie and I both seem to crave in our homes. Taylor was sweet as could be, as always. She decided that Gramma's new Christmas necklace was the perfect teething tool for her tiny new bottom teeth. The visit was far too short. I think Katie would have liked us to stay the night but John and I had a special reason for wanting to come home that evening. Oh that visit was too, too short!
As we headed home that evening, Amie called to tell us her partner's oldest son's first baby was born prematurely. I don't know details on weight and such but this little girl is tiny and very premature. Amie asked if I'd pray...Of course I will! They are a young couple and this baby was a surprise. The young lady was told she'd never have a baby of her own and they were planning to adopt when she began to have strange cravings. They were overjoyed to have a baby of their own and now this... It's a hard thing to deal with. I've been praying for them, too.
I spoke briefly with the three grands there. Josie was upset by the baby and other things going on at home, but Ross chatted away. I'm not terribly sure what he said (he has a speech impediment) but it was obviously a list of things he got for Christmas. And Lily...well that little girl is a difficult one to get conversation going with. No different this time either, but Ross made up for her deficit in speaking!
A friend of ours, the man who married Katie and Matt, is working on becoming an ordained minister and he was preaching his first sermon Sunday morning. The service began at 9:45am. Ken did a great job. His sermon was titled, "Can I Get a Do Over?" He spoke of the 'new man' we'd become, our ultimate chance for a do over in life. I enjoyed his sermon very much but I told John today that what I came away with was a sense that it was time for a 'new woman' attitude in my own life. I needed to have a Closed Door policy.
I want to close the door on the past. Like my first marriage. Those hurts and heartaches and such are over and done. Remember those people I said I needed to let go of in my personal life this year? Closed door. If we have a relationship in the future it will be a new one, not the same old hurtful one. And for those with whom I can't break all ties I can be a stranger to them. I mean, that I'd never be rude or impolite to a stranger, nor would I be mortally wounded by the words of a stranger. Past regrets? I've a few, but those days are nearly all prior to my new life in Christ. Time to close that door and stop letting satan remind me of who I was and for me to remember who I am. Time too, to stop wishing things were different, more like they were in the past. Closed door. This is the now in which I live.
Well the holidays were lovely and then Monday came. Isn't that just like life? If it had been a full return to routine it would have been nice, but I had promised Mama a day out. The weather was calm but cloudy and warm. The song of the South at present is the sounds of air conditioners humming! We didn't do anything special. Dinner, grocery store, long ride, home a bit later than usual. And once home, then the routine began. I picked up the house and was just about to vacuum when I decided that really I ought to un-decorate from Christmas first and then vacuum. Two days later and I've only just now got around to vacuuming. And I didn't do that...John did! Truth told, I found the furniture needed to be dusted and again, why vacuum and then follow with dusting? It's counterproductive.
I've been trying to sort out what 2016 should be for me. I've got my resolutions all set. It's not those I'm thinking about. I've been thinking more along the lines of what I want aside from the big things. Like more reading time. And regular visits to the library for new material to read. And really joining up with the historical society as I meant to do last year.
I've been thinking about money as well. We've been looking at projected figures for retirement (coming in about 5 more years) and we will have a little less than we've got now to live on. It would do us well to work now at lowering our daily costs even more at present, so that we're accustomed to what our income will be then. But how? Well obviously I will just keep hunting ways to trim!
I decided that my focus, at least at the beginning of this new year, will be the unfinished projects I've started and haven't quite completed. That means the front porch will be finished up. That one shouldn't be terribly hard, since it's down to the decorative things and a few plants there. John has asked that I put up some curtains to partly shelter the porch from rain and the sun that pounds it on the Southern end (where the seating is). I've decided the best bet for that is probably drop cloths.
I also want to get the cabinet on the back porch painted. Come Spring all the white portions of that porch must be painted over fresh with a mildew resistant paint. All the work I went to in the autumn washing end of the house was for naught. The damp cloudy days have just bred still more mildew, sigh. I hope to do some work on that planned flower bed in front of the porch but I'm running ahead of myself, now.
And last on my list of unfinished projects is the guest/craft room. I need to paint the bedstead, and find a vanity/dresser for the guest side of the room. I want to replace the plastic drawers on the craft side with a more furniture like storage piece.
I need new pillow and pillow covers for the living room. It seems a good opportunity to introduce a new color in the living room. I've enjoyed the chocolate brown and green with natural and khaki colors in the living room but the blue and white china made me realize more than ever that I really want to use blue in the living room. I've been thinking I might swap curtains with the master bedroom curtains (blue ones) and just purchased two new pillows, and need covers or fabric to make more. Not a huge project but a slight change.
I have some new projects in mind and I am slowly collecting pieces for those but my main focus areas will be finishing the unfinished projects and freshening the living room before I start any new ones.
I've been tracking my spending of late. Not the household funds, as I know just exactly where those are spent. I'm tracking my personal funds. I want my money to work as hard for me as it can and frivolous spending doesn't really enter into that plan. So by tracking my funds and knowing that I spent so much towards restocking the pantry and so much towards the house or wardrobe or even a take out meal, I can determine if I'm really using it the best ways I can. I think when funds are limited, that's when we have to be especially careful to watch where we're spending and make sure that the money is working as hard for us as we're working for it! I don't mean that I'll never have a moment when I opt for a magazine or new lipstick or a pricey bottle of perfume...I do mean that I really want to think about where I'm spending my money and making sure that whatever I purchase is a need or a want but not just more stuff that has no meaning or purpose. Gracious I've spent a good bit of my life decluttering things which I bought as an impulse, without stopping to think.
Speaking of decluttering, that too is on my list for January. Specifically books. I culled books this afternoon and gave real thought to what I have on my shelves. There are books I've never read though I purchased them. I'd like to put them on the bookcase near my chair so that I will see them and realize they are waiting for me, but I haven't any room there. The bookcases are primary on my mind for the decluttering but I'll go through the whole house and really look at what we've got and what needs to go. The kitchen should be okay since I went through it in the Fall and culled deeply. I saved some things (like mixing bowls) and Katie has asked for those. As I go through the house, I will set things aside for other households but there are always things that can just as well go right on to be donated.
Speaking of donations...there are a couple of boxes in the shed awaiting that very thing. I need to declutter the shed, too!
Monday while out with Mama, I noted a sale on latched totes. They were buy one get one free and they were nice sturdy totes. The lids latch in a way that I've not seen before on storage containers making them more secure. Perfect for storing my Christmas things. And at just the right time for packing up. I mean to get them fully organized but the weather is a factor. I've no plans to run out to the shed to organize things with it pouring rain, not to mention how awkward it is to carry totes across a soggy lawn. I will look for an opportunity to move them to the shed before New Year's Day, if I possibly can, but no harm if I don't get them fully organized right away. At least this task was well started before Christmas and the things I packed up this week are well organized. It won't be the disaster it's been in years past to try and find things!
I often wonder just where Katie and Sam get their 'I want it now!' attitude. I guess I needn't look any further than my own reflection in the mirror. Once my mind latches onto an idea, I want to get started right away. Fortunately for me, there is the money issue. I'll admit that the creative thinking required when money is already accounted for is both frustrating and fun. Case in point is my desire for a fresh look in the living room.
I sat here Monday night thinking about it and finally just decided to start moving a few things around the room and seeing what I could come up with. The mantel is always the easiest place to start in my opinion. So the Christmas bouquet went there, front and center with the lovely white pheasants either side. I played about with candlesticks for a bit and then decided upon a pair of pretty cut glass hurricanes. But that wasn't quite enough. So I dug about in my flea market things and glassware. I added two glass dessert dishes with a pretty stem and two sherbet dishes.
I suppose that I created a sort of New Year's look really. I put three of the snowflakes from the tree in the frames to the right of the mantle, with blue card stock. A small wish for winter, maybe. After all without cold there will be no peaches and we must have peaches!
It was a good start. The trouble was that under the Christmas decor things were looking pretty dusty and gritty. Ugh. I had to clean and that felt pretty good, too, closer to the pre-holiday routine. But it took longer to accomplish the things I did, so here it is two days later and I am still cleaning and freshening the house but it feels good to do these things once more. I like the idea of having the house ready for a New Year.
So our holidays are done and the house is clean and neat (or very nearly) and I have a plan for the year ahead, as much as one can plan such things as a year. John is working New Year's day. I don't have any special plans nor a special meal in mind. I just want to spend the day here at home, enjoying being in my house, fluffing and cleaning. It seems a good way to start a New Year.
As I was sorting out the bookcases and putting author's books all together (so much easier to find!), I thought of my need for another bookcase. There's a low bookcase in John's music room closet. I went back to look it over. It could use a good coat of paint and tightening up in the joints but it's a bookcase and it was very nearly empty. Basically he was using it as a shelf. I suggested it would be awfully nice if he could let it come to the living room. I thought I might put it under the window...It surely would be appreciated to have a little more bookshelf space because odds are we're not going to go with out books this next year. I say this as I recall that we got two in the mail today.
Well dear, grab an umbrella and don't you wish you just had galoshes or rain boots? Blossom ran down to the mail box behind the car this afternoon and blithely went right through the puddles, though some were deep enough to douse her belly. Oddly she came back to the house drier than Maddie. John asked Maddie how she got so wet. I explained to him she'd run through the woods and the lower branches are all at her height, while Blossom runs under the lower branches and therefore keeps dry.
Now here I am holding you up when I'd meant for you to go on while there was a break in this rain...Talk to you next year!