...and will continue with letter H next week once Christmas vacation is over!
Here are the sweaters I made for all my little girls for Christmas. I used the Martini Bolero pattern designed by my friend Heather for Chicks with Sticks. You can buy the pattern here. It knits up so super quick with only two tails to weave when you're done--NO assembly required.
They all wore them today and looked so cute!
I did make a bunch of other gifts this year. Like this tote for Kristen/Tyson. I figured he needed a "boy" one--the fabric has skateboarding boys and boys climbing trees on it. It's lined with blue polka-dot oilcloth and I made a big zippy to match--also lined with oilcloth to hold diapers/wipes or Kristen's stuff.
And I made these wooden blocks for Tyson--only half the alphabet though, the rest will come for his birthday.
Let's see...I also made some other tote bags, a hat for Kristen, scarves for the girls, and I can't think what else right now. I wasn't very good at taking pictures of everything this year. I'll have to check everyone else's Christmas morning photos too.
EDITED TO ADD LATER:
Since you've asked, here's the skinny on the blocks:
I bought plain wooden blocks from Hobby Lobby for 99 cents each. Then I collected a bunch of scrapbook paper that matched the alphabet paper I found first and knew I wanted to use. I cut out each letter, then five different scraps from coordinating paper (there are six sides to each block). For each of these scraps, I cut squares slightly larger than the sides of the blocks.
I used Mod Podge and worked two opposite sides at a time, filing off the edges of the paper when they dried and moving to the next two sides. (Take a peek at the Scrapbook Letter Tutorial over there ------> for more detailed instructions on the gluing/sanding steps.)
When all the sides were covered in paper, I put at least two coats of Mod Podge over the the whole block to protect them from baby drool!
That's it! It's a really simple project and goes quickly, if you don't count sitting around waiting for the glue to dry. But if you do a bunch of blocks at once, then the first blocks are dry when you've finished the last ones and you can keep going around and around.
So with a totally clear conscience for having completed the task at hand, I headed downstairs this afternoon for a little celebratory crafting.
My friend Teri sent me two gorgeous tea towels from Crate & Barrel with my Christmas present. I totally fell in love with the print and immediately thought, I must have a bag out of this! Much too pretty to dry dishes.
I went to C&B yesterday and picked up two more--just in case I needed more fabric--and washed and dried them. It took three towels exactly--no scraps left over.
It was so fun to make this up as I went along and see where it went. I'm really pleased with how it turned out and have already cleaned out the purse I was carrying and transfered everything into this bag. Now I just need someplace to go...
After two days and a couple of hours this morning, I think my book might be finished!
I'm going to back up the file (wouldn't that be terrible?!) and take a break from it. Then I'll read it one more time sometime next week and send it off.
::happy dancing all over the place::
Hey all you wonderful women...
Do any of you keep a quiet time journal? How long have you done this? What kinds of things do you write in it? Do you go back through them? How often? Why?
Any help would be appreciated! Leave a comment, or send me an email directly at joanneheim [at] aol [dot] com.
So, no movie after all. Audrey came down with the stomach flu at about 10 o'clock last night and was up every hour throwing up. Poor kid. But she's been feeling better (and rotting her brain with an all-TV-all-day-long kind of a day) for the past few hours. She's even kept some ginger ale down.
Thanks to those of you praying for her. It's made her feel better to know that there are people all over saying prayers for her sick tummy.
Despite the change in plans and needing to wash sheets and spray the entire house with Lysol and wash my hands every five minutes (they are SO dry and starting to crack from it all!), I've been working away and am making progress. Still in my jammies, watching the snow swirl down, and typing away. In fact, I think I may need a break because my hands are feeling a little arthritic, stiff, and achy.
Think I'll ask Toben to build me a roaring fire...
P.S. Today is our sixteenth anniversary--in sickness and in health!
The fire is delightful, I'm more than halfway done, and I'm ready to go crawl in bed with a book. I thought Audrey was feeling better--she ate a piece of toast for dinner--but now she's moaning and groaning again. Maybe the toast wasn't such a good idea after all.
...is to work on my book and make some last changes and really get it done. My due date is January 7 and I need to get this finished. I'm speaking at a MOPS group the very next day and need to get prepared for that too.
Toben's taking the girls to see Alvin and the Chipmunks in the morning so the house will be quiet for at least a couple of hours.
So I'm telling you this so that I'll be accountable and if I blog about anything other than getting some serious work done over the next few days you can totally kick my little (well, I've been eating way too many peanut butter blossoms, so my not-so-little) tush.
I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas day yesterday. It had snowed--just a dusting--when I got up yesterday morning about 5:30. But then it started to snow again and snowed all day long. We had six inches of white Christmas.
And I'm not ready for it to be over yet.
The other day when I was out doing some last-minute Christmas errands at Target I noticed that there was already some Valentine's stuff out. Yep. Valentine's, which isn't until February 14 the last time I checked.
Somehow as a culture we've lost the ability to celebrate the season we're in. Before school is out, back to school supplies are for sale. In the middle of summer we're getting ready for Halloween, before September's over the Christmas stuff is up, and by the time Christmas rolls around, we're already planning for Valentine's. I'm sure that by the time February begins, it'll be time to think about Easter.
I woke up this morning, feeling a little blue that Christmas is over already. But then I stopped to remind myself that it's NOT over. Christmas day--December 25--is past. But the season of Christmas is still right now.
Maybe I'm reminded of this because the Advent devotional I've been reading goes through January 7--the end of the Twelve Days of Christmas. The twelve days AFTER Christmas that lead up to Epiphany, when we celebrate the visit of the Magi to Jesus.
It's a little crazy, this putting Christmas away--literally and figuratively--the day after Christmas Day. It's over and done with, time to move on to whatever's next.
Christ is born--it may be the end of waiting, but it's only the beginning. This is when life begins. I can't imagine Mary and Joseph waking up the next day, thinking, Well, that's over and done with. Let's get back to life in Nazareth. There's no way Mary climbed back up on that donkey for a three-day journey home the morning after having a baby!
I remember when my girls were born. By the time they were delivered, I was ready for pregnancy to be finished. But it was just the beginning. And I needed some time to adjust, to refocus, to just marvel at the beauty of a baby.
And just like then, I'm feeling the need to sit still awhile, to gaze at the child, to reflect on what this new birth means to me. I need some time to adjust, to worship, to ponder these things and treasure them in my heart.
I want to cocoon a little. To stay at home, to venture out as little as possible. I want to give myself time to celebrate and know this Jesus who has been born again this Christmas.
And so I'm not going to stop playing Christmas carols just because December 25 has been marked off the calendar. I'm not going to put away the decorations just yet or take down the tree with its sparkling lights. Instead I'm going to sit awhile in that light and rejoice that Light has indeed come into the world.
And that means I still go to bed earlier than most kids. Oh well. It's in my genes...just ask my mother. As long as you ask before 8:00.
I'm off to meet Holly and Meredith for coffee (or chai, for Meredith) this morning down in Castle Rock. Anyone else wanna come? I know Angie would probably love to, but she was up waaaay to late! Next time...
Isn't this blogging thing incredible? I just love "meeting" new friends and then getting to actually meet them face to face. It's just so cool. I know I say this a lot, but, really, if you're ever in Denver, call me and let's go have lunch!
Before I head down the highway, I'll take the girls to school (something Toben rarely lets me do when he's in town!) and meet with some other moms to pray. There's a handful of us who meet on Thursday mornings to pray together--for the school, for teachers and administrators, for our kids, for each other. Just like blogging, praying together is a way to get to know people well--and quickly. I love these women and am so blessed to call them my friends.
So...other random stuff:
I picked up the basement (at least my half of it) some yesterday--a never-ending job it seems. After assembling and wrapping presents for the past month or so it was a pit. Now there's space to be creative once again.
On Tuesday, I went down to the Denver Rescue Mission with the middle school class I've been helping learn to knit. The kids knitted hats and scarves and we took a tour and delivered a couple of boxes full of warm things for the homeless men there. Did you know there are four million homeless people in America? If you've never read it, go get a copy of Under the Overpass. A great book that gives lots of insight into being homeless and an incredible story. I'm almost certain that the author started his homeless journey at the Denver Rescue Mission.
Things like homelessness in America feel overwhelming to me. What can I do to help? The director said that our time is what they need most--to come volunteer. But as a woman, I don't feel comfortable down there by myself. We were a huge group, and yet he still walked us out to the parking lot to make sure we got to our cars safely. People were smoking crack on the sidewalk as we walked by. A whole different world. (Which, by the way, is the most awful smell. Instant headache that took hours to go away. I understand addiction, but am not certain why anyone would try it in the first place.)
I was thinking about this again this morning as I was praying and came across this from Psalm 102: "You will look with favor upon the homeless, and not despise their pleas." Praying for the homeless in America sometimes seems overwhelming too--what does one prayer do? But God is not overwhelmed by it and prayer does make a difference.
Don't forget to enter Giveaway #4.
Think that's about it. Gotta go jump in the shower so I don't have to go to school and coffee in my pjs!
Oh dear, I'm on a falling asleep early kick. And I mean early early. And when I get in this phase it's so danged hard to get out of.
Because I could not keep my eyes open last night, and got under the covers fully clothed to read to the girls because I was cold, and kept stopping to yawn, and then peeled off my clothes and contact lenses and then feel asleep before 8 o'clock. And so I woke up bright eyed and bushy tailed at about 4 this morning, then looked at the clock again at 4:15, then at 4:27, then at 4:38, then at 4:57, then I fell asleep until 5:14 and got up at 5:26.
The good thing is that I baked eight loaves of cinnamon raisin bread by 6:15 this morning and the house smelled divine and all my Christmas baking is done. The bad thing is that it's now 7:11 and I really just want to go to sleep. (Oh, and I ate one of those loaves of bread almost all by myself. I figure I needed to make sure it wasn't poisonous before I gave any of it away. Really, I was being nice.)
I may have to go run around the block.
I bought my first Japanese sewing book online and it arrived yesterday. Isn't it pretty?
I think that's Japanese for "pretty clothes you can make if you can figure out how to read Japanese directions."
The clothes in this book are just beautiful. Clean, simple lines--very Anthropologie. I'm having fun looking through it again and again and thinking about what to make first.
Everything I've read says that as long as you know how to sew, following these books is really pretty easy--even if you don't speak Japanese, which I don't. But after looking at the patterns included, I'm a little worried.
Now if I can only figure out what size I wear, whether seam allowances are included, and find some paper large enough to trace patterns on to make my own pattern pieces.
In the meantime, I think I'll just look through it again and dream about how cute these clothes will be once I decide what to make first...
I got the laundry folded and started to put it away, then was completely frustrated by the state of drawers and closets in the girls rooms. So I took an hour--that's all--and quickly went through shelves and drawers and have one bag of stuff for Goodwill and two, yes TWO!, bags of trash. TRASH--how is that possible? Some, I'll admit it, is stuff I just threw away--bits of plastic jewelry, bits of toys from kids' meals. But most of it was bits of paper, wrapping from whatever came home from the store, trash.
And I did find a Target gift card, $5, and a bunch of quarters and pennies. Finders keepers!
Why is it so hard to begin things? Because, really, once you start it doesn't take all that long. Something I tell myself everytime it's time to unload the dishwasher or put away laundry or clean the bathroom.
So the laundry is still folded in piles on my bed. Time to go put it away...
The letter G is up over there on the Free Downloads page. Once again, something I need to hear myself.
Too much of my conversation and thoughts these days revolves around "When I get the book done, then I'll ___________." Fill in the blank: do the ironing that's been piling up for (gulp!) months, clean the girls' closets, refold my wardrobe, pick up the basement, get better about planning menus again. You name it, I've been putting it off for the past month (at least!).
Yes, some things really do need to wait until I meet my deadline. But not nearly as many as I'd like to think. I need to get going--to do what I know I need to do. To stop making excuses.
So don't leave me any nice comments that will inspire me to procrastinate some more. Just tell me to get my rear in gear, to get my act together, and to just do what needs doing--and to do it "without arguing and complaining."
We took the girls to see Enchanted this morning. I love going to the movies--especially in the middle of the day. Something about coming out from a dark theater into daylight feels decadent to me. (As it should--have you been the movies lately? Oh my gosh, not cheap for a family of four plus popcorn and Milk Duds!)
Anyway, this was a great movie. Disney poking fun at itself--sort of Shrek-like in that. If you're looking for a family film that you'll all enjoy, go see this one!
Just because he's home again...
I had high hopes given this recipe, but it wasn't the best chocolate cake ever. It did look pretty though.
Maybe if it was made with real chocolate, instead of unsweetened baking chocolate. And maybe if it used butter instead of shortening. The texture was perfect, even if the taste wasn't the best. Not bad, just not the best.
Before dessert, we had T-bone steaks, baked potatoes, mushrooms sauteed in sherry, and steamed broccoli. Mmm...
P.S. See, John, I take pictures of food for my blog too!
Colored lights or white lights? White for me, though I love colored ones out and about in the neighborhood. But no blinking lights, please.
Real tree or fake tree? We always had a real tree and cut it ourselves until we moved to California. Because we traveled back to Colorado for Christmas, we bought a fake one. But it has pine cones on it and I wire even more pinecones on it.
What is your least favorite thing about the holidays? Stressed out people. (Including me at times!)
What is the one thing that you would like to see under the tree this year? A new video camera.
What is your favorite thing to do/build in the snow? I like to sit inside by the fire and watch it fall.
What is your favorite holiday drink? Don't really have one. Just need that coffee each and every morning as usual!
What is your favorite holiday smell? Christmas tree!
Who is your favorite reindeer? Rudolph--I still have my Rudolph book from when I was little.
What is your Christmas Eve ritual? Eat soup. Open presents in our little family. Make reindeer food. Set out cookies for Santa. Sit by the tree until I can't keep my eyes open any more. (Yep, that's about 9:30!)
Are you a Friday after Thanksgiving shopper? Never!
What is your favorite holiday food? Before tonight, I might have said Christmas cookies, but I OD'd today. Ugh. So...maybe the Christmas brunch we eat every year at my mom and dad's.
How did you find out that Santa wasn't real? I don't remember, but my mother says I was devastated. So I've always told my girls he's not real. But we all pretend to believe--even though we don't.
Who do you want to be under the mistletoe with? Toben!
Have you bought all your presents yet? Yes--though I made most of them. All wrapped, mailed, and under the tree.
Do you spend Christmas with a lot of family? Yes--us, my parents, my sister and her family.
Do you still make snowmen and snow angels? It's been too long.
Do you still have snow ball fights? Also been too long.
What's your favorite Christmas movie? Seven Brides for Seven Brothers--not really Christmassy, but they do get snowed it.
What do you plan to do for New Year's Eve? Not a thing.
What's the most expensive thing you've ever gotten for Christmas? Tiffany pearls.
How early do you wake up on Christmas morning? Same time as usual--about 5:30.
What do you usually get in your stocking? All kinds of little stuff--nail polish, gum, toothbrush--all wrapped and all from my mother.
What is your favorite religious Christmas carol? Too hard to choose! I love ALL of them!
What is your favorite non-religious Christmas song? Baby, It's Cold Outside
How long do you leave up your Christmas decorations? Until New Year's Day, usually. But I'm considering leaving them up through Epiphany this year.
Consider yourself tagged!
The letter F in The ABCs of Living Simply is up over there on the Free Downloads page.
Have to say, it's rather ironic that today's letter (or yesterday's, rather!) is for flexibility given that all my plans went awry today. I spent all day feeling disappointed at not being able to go to Boulder (and second-guessing my decision when the sun came out and the roads cleared up around noon)--and so I didn't enjoy being home by the fire with the girls the way I could have. Boy, this is a lesson I'm still learning, one I need desperately.
I'm feeling awfully convicted as I sit here--I need to go read some Christmas stories to the girls, crawl in bed myself, let my Abba comfort me, and redeem what's left of this day.
My dad just called to tell me that I made the right decision this morning. A couple of guys at his office were in accidents this morning--one even totalled his car. He said the roads were so bad he didn't think I would've made it on time had I tried to get there. It was so what I needed to hear...thanks, Dad!
Well, I'm here at home after calling Angie to tell her I won't be headed up to her church for their MOPS Christmas brunch this morning.
It's snowing hard, school is delayed, traffic is awful, roads are treacherous, and it's supposed to snow 5-10 more inches in the foothills near Boulder the rest of the day.
The news just said our normal 10-minute drive to school will take about 50 minutes. Ugh. Think we might just declare a snow day for the Heim family.
I feel terrible having to cancel. Maybe I'll get the car unpacked, take the curlers out of my hair, and make a little movie of what I would have said...
Thanks for your prayers. They totally helped with preparation--and with wisdom about cancelling today too.
The car's packed, my notes are gathered, bread is baked, the GPS is set, laundry's done...and NOW I'm starting to feel nervous. Not bad--but just wanting to do a good job for these sweet women.
It's a good thing Toben's gone. He laughs at me for the stuff I haul around in my car for Girl Scouts. That's all out and it's filled with stuff for tomorrow's brunch. He would give me such a hard time. You'd think I was moving to Boulder!
Off to shower and paint my nails. My manicure's history after knocking a new bottle of polish off the bathroom counter. It shattered, and it took lots of nail polish remover to get it off the floor. I forgot to wear gloves--bye bye pretty polish.
The letter F won't be up till tomorrow--flexibility is important, after all...
...though I haven't posted anythng substantial lately.
I'm traveling up to Boulder on Tuesday morning to speak at a MOPS Christmas brunch. I'm going to talk about celebrating the story of Christmas. I'm not nervous--though I'm starting to feel nervous that I'm NOT feeling nervous!
I'm just about all ready, but would really appreciate any prayers you'd like to send my way. Toben's headed out of town again tomorrow for the week and it's cold and snowy. My mom's going to come and take the girls to school that morning, but there's still getting them (and me!) up and ready for the day, plus getting there myself.
I've already picked out an outfit, so there will be no last minute changing clothes one hundred times and making myself late! And I got a haircut the other day, plus a manicure and pedicure--thanks to Toben who sent me off to a fancy salon Friday afternoon.
I only cut my hair about once a year (it'd been even longer this time), so it's worth it to get a good cut. People stood around and watched the guy who cut my hair, and then TWO people blowdried my hair at once. He called it "tandem drying"! This is something I could really use--it takes forever to dry my hair.
All that to say...not sure if I'll be around tomorrow. I'll do my best to get the letter F up for the ABCs, but it'll depend on how the day goes!
So...prayers for the logistics of the day, and prayers that God would speak through me, that it would be all about him and that he'd get all the glory.
Thanks--I love you all dearly!
I remember gathering presents and Christmas dinner fixings one year for a hurting family at church. We wrapped everything so carefully, packaged it in brown grocery sacks, and made a plan. Then we drove up in the dark one night, tiptoed to the front door, rang the doorbell, and ran. We piled back in the car and drove away.
It seemed like such a huge adventure. To be out after dark, to be in on a secret, to be sneaky and quiet and pull off a big surprise.
I don't remember who the family was--or if we even knew them at all--but I so clearly remember the joy of giving in secret.
So here's my challenge--do you know a family (or two, or three...) who could use a "ding dong dash" this Christmas? What could you do for them that would bless them, surprise them, provide for them in a practical way?
This is one of my favorite songs to listen to when I walk in the mornings or while I drive the girls to school. I just love hearing little voices say, "Let me hear you make some Holy Ghost crazy noise right now!"
When I get to heaven, oh how I want to SING like this!
As we celebrate Advent this year and await the coming of Jesus as Immanuel, it makes me think of the end of Revelation too and the next to the last verse in the entire Bible:
"Yes, I am coming soon."
Amen, Come, Lord Jesus.
It's been a season for our family of being surrounded by hurting people. And it just has seemed that even if I stayed on my knees in prayer from dawn till dusk it just wouldn't be enough. Divorce. Abuse. Anger. Heartache. Illness. Depression. Violence. Hatred. We live in a world of hurt.
But his grace is sufficient. He knows and he cares. He even collects our tears in a bottle. And--somehow--he works all things to our benefit. He is good.
Even so, my heart is yearning for his coming. As a baby in the manger, who came to earth to be Immanuel, God with us. And as a victorious Savior called Faithful and True, riding to our rescue on a white horse--a fairy tale come true.
"Amen. Come, Lord Jesus."
The idea behind the award is discipleship--following Jesus each day and learning from him. And when I think of other bloggers I love to read who pursue the heart of Christ, the first to come to mind is Susan. While I've not met Susan (at least not in the normal face-to-face kind of a way!), I feel like I know her heart and consider her to be a dear friend. One of the reasons I long for heaven is to get to hug her and sit down for a nice long chat.
I love her honesty, her longing for Jesus, her willingness to get up each day and continue the journey of becoming "this girl"--a new creation in Christ. Her love for God shines through her words and she radiates his glory.
So, Susan, I pass this award on to you--I love you lots!
I also have to pass this award on to Holly. I have met Holly face to face--which is a wonderful thing, because Holly is one of those people who glows. She shines from the inside out. In fact, I secretly think of her as "Happy Holly."
Even in the midst of turmoil, trials, and testing, Holly has a smile on her face for she is confident in her Jesus. She follows him closely and knows that her Redeemer lives. She has confidence in him, and takes him at his Word. She knows she is loved and it shows.
So, Holly, I pass this award on to you too--I love you lots!
A set of winter vocabulary cards--great for tucking here and there in your holiday decorations! Leave a comment to enter. Winner will be chosen at random on Friday, December 7.
Set of seven cards includes: winter, ho ho ho, happy new year, merry & bright, merry christmas, let it snow, joy
the simple wife handmade
printed on cardstock
"You get up WHEN?" is a question I hear a lot. It's true, I'm up early on school days and pretty early even on the weekends. And while I do go to bed early, I do love to hang out in bed in the mornings as much as the next person. So why get up so early?
I love early morning.
Or maybe I should say, I have come to love early morning. Because I've not always been a morning person.
But having the house all to myself for an hour and a half before the rest of the family gets up is worth getting up early. I come downstairs, flip on the coffee, feed the cat, let the dog out and then in again, turn on the fire, grab that first mug full of coffee, and claim my spot on the couch.
It usually takes me half a cup of coffee, while I sit and stare at the fire, to get going. Then I grab my copy of Venite and pray the morning office. It helps me to have a guide to pray through, because like everyone else, I struggle with a wandering mind that goes off on rabbit trails and ends up who knows where.
As part of the morning office, I go through daily Scripture readings from the Psalms, the Gospels, and the Old and New Testaments. I pray for "those with whom I share the Journey"--my family, friends and family far away, and "those we know who face particular trials and tests this day." I pray the the Lord's Prayer and for "the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ to go with us all" throughout our day, wherever it may lead us.
I have time in the morning to do my Bible study homework, or to study the Word on my own. I have time to make notes on index cards of thoughts and ideas for whatever book or talk I'm working on at the moment. I have time to write a card to anyone God brought to mind as I prayed, or to send a quick email.
I have time in the morning to check my email, to catch up on reading your blogs, to just sit and be still and listen.
Even though I'm careful with my time and limit my daily commitments, my days go as quickly as the next person's. At the end of the day, it always seems that there's something I didn't get to, something to add to tomorrow's list.
Early morning creates space for those important things that get pushed to the bottom of the list in the face of the urgent.
Early morning starts my day with peace, with quiet, with time alone with God.
Early morning gives me time to pray--to spend time really interceding for others and then to continue to shoot small prayers for them heavenward as thoughts arise throughout the day.
Early morning means watching the sky slowly change as the day dawns. "God said, 'Let there be light'; and there was light, And God saw that the light was good. This very day the Lord has acted. May God's name be praised."
Early morning allows me to be calm and not rushed as the girls get up and dressed and ready for school.
Early morning fills me up so I can go through my day ready to give and serve, rather than grasping at others for my needs to be met.
Because early morning is all these things to me, that's why I get up early. An extra hour or so of sleep just can't compare.