Christmas tree ornaments and holiday songs

It’s been another long crazy day, with little to show for it. However, I do have something to show for some of my recent days.

I made a few ornaments for some relatives again this year. (Not as many as last year, though.) I was all set last week to mail out a parcel full of fair trade chocolate to some people (Theo brand!), which I’d wrapped up in some re-usable gift bags from Wrapsacks. Then Phoebe came home from daycare with some ornaments she’d made with pipe cleaner and plastic beads. And then I was apparently overpowered by the desire to make some more ornaments. Perhaps due to my need to one-up my two-year-old daughter. I’ll show her!

And so it was that in the midst of feeling overloaded, I was up past 1 in the morning, scavenging and snipping and stitching. I cut some tree shapes from a bit of green felt (leftover from Theo’s Halloween carrot-top hat), and sewed on some glass beads, and some bits of chain on one:

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Last night, once the little people were asleep, I sat down with my laptop and was greeted by a message telling me that my computer had not been backed up in 110 days. Gulp. Whereas I haven’t done huge amounts of work on my laptop in that time, there has been a fair amount. And what’s more, I have taken quite a few pictures. Theo is, in fact, only about 120 days old now, so losing those pictures would have been more than a little upsetting. Seeing as my laptop had been acting a bit screwy with the sound output the night before, I knew I shouldn’t wait any more.

While I waited for my backup to finish, I took a few pictures. I’d been saying I’ve wanted to try out some macro photography, and my little point and shoot Canon can only get me so far. (Or so close, as the case may be.) So John set me up to play with his Nikon SLR and a macro lens. Here are some of the results:

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A couple of ornaments on our tree.

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Some dolls from my grandmother’s collection that she would display at Christmas.

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That last pair relates to something else I did recently. They are closeups of my pre-amplifier and microphone, which I used to make a recording.

I submitted a song to the 2008 Blogger Christmahanukwanzaakah Online Holiday Concert, which Neil of Citizen of the Month is so graciously hosting. I lost my voice last week when I had a cold, so I almost chickened out. But I mostly got my voice back, and I figured I would regret it if I didn’t send in a recording.

(The song I sang is Coventry Carol, and I have a post drafted about that song which I’ll probably share in a few days.)

bunny and carrot (and also a cat)

I had grand ideas to have Phoebe and Theo’s Halloween costumes coordinate in some way. As Phoebe wanted to be a bunny, I thought Theo (who had no input in the matter) could be a carrot.

I early gave up on the idea of making Phoebe’s bunny costume, thinking that it would be easy to find one ready-made. I had plans to make Theo’s costume as well as my own, and thought making 3 costumes would be insane. We had some trouble finding a bunny in her size, as it turned out, and ended up ordering online. But seeing as I am a pathological procrastinator, we did so only a week before our party.

A few days before the party, we got a bit antsy, and when we saw a much-discounted white kitty costume, we decided to get it, thinking that I could transform it into a bunny in a pinch. As it turned out, the bunny costume arrived the same day. But, it also turned out to have enclosed plush-covered feet. Such that one could not wear the costume with shoes. As one might want to do when walking outside. Such as one tends to do for trick-or-treating.

So, we decided she could wear the bunny costume for our party, and then the kitty cat for trick-or-treating. (And as such may have set the expectation for future years of having two costumes for Halloween…)

I did manage to make Theo’s carrot, using orange fleece (so as to need minimal hemming) and some green felt for the greens. I made up a pattern for carrot bunting-type thing as well as a hat. We don’t have a sewing machine, so I stitched it up by hand. Much of it while I was on the phone for a work conference call a few hours before the party.

And, because I had to go and run off at the mouth (or whatever the typed equivalent is) about having each of my posts this month feature some word that I like, I felt compelled to follow through in some way. And while I do think the word bunny is a fine word¹, it seemed a bit…um…fluffy…as a followup to yesterday’s omphaloskepsis.

So, I dug up a couple of new words to go along with this post. Both of these are from a site called Luciferous Logolepsy.

    apiaceous
    adj. – parsley-like; belonging to plant family including carrot, parsley, etc.

    macrotous
    adj. – having large ears


My temorarily macrotous daughter and briefly apiaceous son.


Here is Phoebe as a kitty. No bonus word for this image, unless someone else wants to add one.

¹ I did discover though, that in British English, bunny can refer to a squirrel. Which funnily enough was Phoebe’s costume of last year.

The Curse of the Mummy Blogger

We had our Halloween party last Friday. It was a “costumes optional” affair. As hostess, of course I had to dress up. (Okay, fine. I love to dress up.) I decided to be a mummy. It seemed appropriate. You know, seeing as I’ve been pretty wrapped up in myself. And feel a bit holed up and isolated. And starting to feel old. Now that the air is getting dry with the crisp outdoor air and heated indoor air, my skin is a getting a bit shrivelled. (I don’t have time to shower most days, let alone moisturize…)

Oh, right. And then there’s the whole pun business. How could I resist?

My costume was a bit better in planning than in execution, but I guess it worked well enough. (It might not surprise you to learn that I ran out of time.) I used an old white sheet that had been in our rag pile, and tore it into strips. I then soaked the sheet in tea. (I used Lapsang Souchong, because I have a lot, and don’t drink it much. I also figured the musty smell would work.) I wore an off-white shirt and some off-white pajama pants, and wrapped myself. I stitched here and there and safety pinned to hold things in place. There wasn’t too much time, as I started the wrapping about an hour before the start of the party, so I didn’t manage to wrap as much of myself as I’d hoped. Ah well.

John didn’t get any pictures till the end of the night, by which time I was largely unravelled. But you can still get the effect. (Go see the picture…if you dare…)

I also made Theo’s costume, though not Phoebe’s. Phoebe was a bunny, which was her idea. And a harder costume to track down than you might imagine. Theo was a carrot. I’ll try to get some pictures.

presents that make me feel happy

I sent some holiday gifts this year that really made me feel good.

There are some family members for whom it has become increasingly harder to come up with ideas for gifts, since we don’t see or talk to them often enough to know their tastes well. When I can, I try to choose a book or CD that I liked, thinking they can at least pass it on to someone else if they don’t like it. In other cases, when I don’t have books or music in mind, I try to keep the gifts compact or consumable so that the recipient won’t be burdened with storage of something they might not really like. (I wrote some more thoughts about gift-giving at this time last year.)

This year, I was multiply inspired by some blogs I read. First, Mad of Under the Mad Hat described and showed photos of her impressive craftiness, and asked what sorts of holiday crafts her readers were up to. I replied that I had in the past made some Christmas tree ornaments, but that my own days of craftiness were largely behind me. Then Sage of Not So Sage went and showed her own crafty endeavors.

Somewhere along the way, I started reminiscing about the things I used to make with my hands, while dreading the experience of holiday shopping. And I thought to myself, “wouldn’t it be great to spend my time and energy making gifts, rather than desperately hunting for gifts and parking spaces?”

So I decided to dig out my supplies, my brass and copper wire, my tools and my beads, and to make some ornaments. (I’ll post some photos later.) My plan was to give an ornament to these hard-to-buy-for relatives, and supplement with a donation to Heifer International, or some such.

But then my next inspiration came in the form of a post from jen of One Plus Two. In her preamble to the November Just Posts presentation, she mentioned a project described by Jess of Oh, The Joys: the rebuilding of a school library in New Orleans that had been destroyed during hurricane Katrina. There is an Amazon wishlist for this school whereby people can purchase books for this library, and have them sent directly there.

So the idea fell into my lap what I could give to those various people. I picked out books from the wishlist that I thought would be appreciated by the giftees: music books for/from the musicians in the family, a history book for/from a history buff, art books for/from the artists. And for each gift I bought, I printed up an image of the book, and wrote a little note saying “We sent your gift to New Orleans!” (And briefly describing the project.) I got on such a roll, I even bought extra gifts for/from people I already had other gifts for.

I have to tell you, as I wrapped up my hand-made ornaments, and enclosed the notes, I have never felt so good about the gifts I sent.

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make like a tree (and squirrel)

We took Phoebe out trick-or-treating for the first time tonight. Phoebe was dressed as a squirrel, and I was dressed as a tree.¹

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I love getting dressed up, and devising costumes.

My tree costume (which you can see a bit of over at John’s) was an old standby of mine, a creation I’m quite proud of. I wear all brown, wear a twig wreath on my head with a few leaves, and drape some fall leaf garlands around my shoulders. The costume was not only easy to put together, but since I happen to have various plain dark brown clothing items to disguise my body as the tree trunk, it was cheap. It only cost me about $10.00 to buy the leaves and wreath at a craft store.

I was quite happy with how Phoebe’s costume turned out, too. The squirrel to climb on my tree. It was another assembled piece of work. (I don’t really sew.) I found a grey onesie, on sale for about $3.00, and stitched a white oval on the tummy from a robe that had long since been retired to the rag pile. The tail was put together from an old fuzzy snake dog toy, and I used a Toober toy to give it shape. The ears/hat I made from an old too-small pair of Phoebe’s tights. The biggest expense was to buy a new pair of gray tights, which cost about $7.00. What’s more, the way I put it together, it can all be salvaged again, and the clothes worn as normal clothes.

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¹ John was not in costume. Or perhaps he was just a big nut.