Monthly Archives: November 2015

NICU Charity Challenge 2015

An email popped into my mail this morning announcing this year’s Christmas Charity Challenge. This is the sixth year for the challenge, and will be my second year participating.

The challenge is to knit or crochet 12 hats for your local NICU unit in 12 days. The yarn police do not knock on your door if you only finish one or two. I know you are busy. Tomorrow is December 1st and you have at least 3 months of things to do in the next 3 weeks. But think about this. I completed 2 NICU hats today on my break & the last 1/2 of my lunch at work. While watching a bit of TV yesterday, I finished 5 of them. They are tiny and work up quick.

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Last year when I decided to do this challenge, I contacted 3 local hospital in my area, and neither one even answered me. Then I remembered my best friend’s sister is a nurse in a NICU unit! Duh – I attribute my airheadedness to the Christmas season of craziness, but it was probably just an every day airhead moment. She quickly responded that they would LOVE to take them, and I’ve been making  hats for them all year.

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I always use acrylic yarn because it is easily washed and dried. There are no strings or buttons that might fall off or get in the way of treatments or cause a choking hazard. This is a great way to use bits of yarn you have left from other projects.

If you are interested and want to know more, please go to Sunset Family Living’s blog. http://www.sunsetfamilyliving.com/christmas-charity-challenge-2015/ . As an extra bonus, when you sign up for the challenge, you will receive a free pattern for an adorable baby hat in you email each day. If you really want to warm your heart, once you go to the website, you can follow the link to her Facebook page to see all of the hats current and former participants have donated. Nicu hat #11

 

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Oh Christmas Tree

Friday before our youngest son and wife left for home we went to Kuiper’s Farm to get our Christmas tree. Since it had been raining all day. we decided a pre-cut tree was our best bet. That way no one had to get soaking wet laying in the ground cutting our own.

They were not as happy to pose for a picture, but indulged me anyway.

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Due to the rain, it stayed in the back of our truck until today. The good news was it was nice and dry. The bad news was all of the boys were home so the hubby had to haul it to the patio and cut off the end by himself. Lucky for him Mea was there to make sure nothing was hiding inside the branches.

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It is in the house, but decorations won’t be added until this week.

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Illuminations at Morton Aboretum

The night before Thanksgiving we went to Morton’s Arboretum in Lisle, IL for the annual Illuminations display.  Here is the promo info from their website: http://www.mortonarb.org/events/illumination-tree-lights-morton-arboretum
“From November 20, 2015 through January 2, 2016, The Morton Arboretum glows with dazzling LED lights and trees that respond to your touch and voice, as Illumination: Tree Lights at The Morton Arboretum returns for a third  year.

See trees in a different light.

  • Stroll over a mile of innovative lights and projections.
  • Hug or sing to trees, and they respond.
  • Enjoy new music from the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.
  • More music, motion, and magic fill the winter woods!
  • Create memories your family will cherish for years.
  • Share the perfect holiday date night.” 

It was all this and more. Walking in the crisp night air seeing thousands of lights and interacting with them was a delight for children and adults.

Words cannot describe the beauty, so I’ve added a few pictures. If you are in the Chicago area, I encourage you to see this display during the Holidays.

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Our youngest son and daughter-in-law enjoyed the lights that changed color when you talked or sang to them.

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These color changing orbs created an alien landscape. One of my favorites!

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Trees transformed by light into works of art.

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Christmas Craft is Always a Blast!

I have posted before about our annual Christmas Craft. To catch you up, it is always a surprise until after Thanksgiving dinner. The craft has to be easily completed by the youngest person participating (the youngest this year is 3) and has to have the ability to be personalized so all of the projects turn out differently.

When this tradition started many years ago, we didn’t have the HUGE advantage of Pinterest. This year I found a couple of ideas using wine glasses. One was creating a snow globe effect and the other was painting the outside to use either as an actual glass to drink from or as a candle holder.

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There were lots of different designs. Our youngest artist painted a blue snowman as well as a plastic wine glass instead of the glass one the grown-ups used. We also helped her make a snow globe out of one of the plastic glasses.

The craft didn’t cost much. I purchased the wine glasses at the dollar store for $1 each. The plastic wine glasses were 6/$1. I got paint brushes in a package of 12 for $1, then just threw them out instead of trying to get the paint out of them.

The paint was .79 – $1.50 each, but I only purchases primary colors, black and white with a 30% off coupon at Michael’s. I also got all of the little snowflake, tree and reindeer stickers and figures 50% off with the additional 30% from Michael’s. The glitter, glue and cotton balls I had at home as well as the rubbing alcohol that is needed to clean the glass before painting. For under $20.00 we had an afternoon of fun and everyone has a Christmas decoration or wine glass to take home.

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She was not happy with the camera flash interrupting her painting. 🙂

 

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It is a messy, noisy, fabulous way to spend Thanksgiving!

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Concentration….

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And sometimes you have to take a break to play with a few toys 🙂

This is one of my favorite traditions, what are some of yours?

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Filed under Christmas, Crafts, family, Family fun, memories, Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving

I am thankful for any day I get to spend with family and friends. Today was a perfect day. We shared food and fun, shared memories and made a few more.

Tomorrow I’ll share pictures of the Christmas Craft. For now here is the picture of my original blog post idea – the roaster that was my grandma & grandpa’s from the early 1950’s. The first pic is my aunt watching my grandpa check on the bird in 1955 (the date on the side is 1956 – but the film must have sat in the camera a while. The back has the date my grandma wrote when she gave it to me).

CindyWhen we plugged the roaster in this year, only one side heated up and when it clicked on our lights dimmed. So we decided to put the bird in the oven instead and throw out the roaster that cooked our family so many delicious dinners, it warms my heart to think of them.

Roaster

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WIP Wednesday

Short post today, Thanksgiving cooking is calling me!

I finished the 2 ear warmers for a friend of mine at work, as well as one for me out of the yarn I purchased at the alpaca farm visit. Here are pictures of all three.

ear warmers me

blue

gray

 

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Christkindlmarket

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Under the Picasso in Daley Plaza in Chicago the annual Christkindlmarket is in full swing. We made the trip into the city with our youngest son and his wife today. It was a really fun and chilly day, but we visited all of our favorite shops, tried some wonderful sweets and purchased several handcrafted items.

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They kids are standing in front of one of my favorite stops – Glaszauber -Lauscha (http://glaszauber-lauscha) that features hand painted ornaments made in Ernsttahl – Germany. I try and get one every year, they are beautiful.

Other shops I like to visit are The Sweets Castle, – aka Hermann the German (candies), TeaGschwendner (fabulous teas) and a new vendor this year St. Roger Abbey French Patisserie (delicious French Pastries).

We stopped and admired handcrafted ornaments, blown glass, knitted hats, toys….too many things to cram into a list that just isn’t doing the market justice.

The shoppers are happy, the vendors are patient. I have never had a bad experience other than the rain last year, and no one can control Mother Nature.

If you happen to be in Chicago this holiday season, stop in and shop, have some German chocolates, pretzels, hot chocolate or strudel. Enjoy lunch or dinner with a brat or a knockwurst served steaming hot with spicy mustard.

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If you go, I hope you have as much fun as we did today.

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Ahhh Monday

Mondays are mostly stinky. I stay up too late on Sundays, usually reading just “one more chapter” for an hour after a sensible person would be asleep. The alarm at 5:30 is abrasive and unforgiving no matter how late I’ve stayed up, so most Mondays are not fun at all.

But today was awesome. My youngest son and daughter-in-law arrived for a visit, which is enough to make me very happy. I am lucky enough to talk to them a lot on the phone, but only get to see them a couple of times a year. We have all kinds of things to do while they are here. That is just icing on the cake for me. Anytime I can spend with our kids makes me very happy.

We had a great dinner with them and our oldest son tonight (the middle son had to work – we missed him but will see him on Thursday and hopefully Friday).

So even though I got up at the crack of dawn. N0- before the crack of dawn, it looked dark as midnight. I finished what had to be done at work until next Monday. Our family will be together at Thanksgiving and lots of other times this week. And I can sleep in the rest of the week. I know that doesn’t sound like much, but it is the little things I like. Sleeping until 7 tomorrow and dinner with the kids tonight. It was a great Monday.

 

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Book Review: White Leopard by Laurent Guillaume – Former Cop Jumps from the Frying Pan Into the Fire

White LeopardWhite Leopard

Laurent Guillaume

Souleymain Camara (Solo) left his career as a cop in France for the supposedly quieter life of a PI in West Africa. Unfortunately, corruption is everywhere and it seems to follow him like a lost puppy.

The beginning of his latest adventure brings a beautiful woman to his doorstep asking him to help her sister. Apparently the sister has made the very bad decision to get tangled up with drug smugglers. She was caught acting as a drug mule and was arrested. Her sister is willing to do anything to get her released and begs Solo for his help.

Solo “plays ball” with the corrupt politicians of the area and gets the sister out of jail. But she never makes it home to her daughter. She is found with her throat slit the day after her release.

The case continues to spiral out of control and quickly becomes very personal to Solo. He finds his life in danger as well as the lives of people he cares about. If the bad guys cross the line into his life, he is not above taking an eye for an eye.

I’m not really sure if I like Solo, but if he were a real person, he would not care if I did or didn’t. The reasons he does what he does are because he is following a strict code to which he adheres, even though it isn’t necessarily one we would all follow.

Guillaume, a French author making his English language debut with White Leopard, does not lose the integrity of the story, or the noir feel of his main character in the translation. As a former cop himself, Guillaume pulls from his vast knowledge of police work including narcotics, anti-gang and drug trafficking. This knowledge brings a graphic reality to this book and I would presume the others.

This is a hard-boiled detective novel. The chapters are short, and the tone and language gritty. Reality is intertwined with fiction creating a heart-pounding, page turning thriller.

White Leopard is his seventh novel; the previous six were published in French.

Copyright © 2015 Laura Hartman

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy that I can keep for consideration in preparing to write this content. I was not expected to return this item after my review.

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What’s Cooking for Thanksgiving?

Thanksgiving is the holiday that has the most food prep and cooking involved in our household. I rely on old family recipes most of all and a few newcomers that have been found on Pinterest, magazines and the internet in general. My most favorite recipes are here:

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My mom got me this blank journal the first year I was married (1976) to write favorite recipes in. Obviously I use it a lot. There are stains and notes on the pages, the edges are brown and the front fell off. The pages are loose and that yellow pony tale holder is used to keep it together so nothing is lost.

Making these recipes reminds me of the people who are no longer sitting at our Thanksgiving table. Their memories and love in the form of the recipes handed down to me are with us.

I’ll share one that my kids like the best. I am not sure where my Mom got the recipe, but is it quick, easy and my sons absolutely have to have it at a family dinner.  What food = holiday love in your family?

Mom’s Veggie Dip

8 oz cream cheese – softened

2-3 T mayo

2 good dashes ketchup (don’t question mom’s recipe LOL)

1 tsp horseradish (I use the stuff in the jar – but NOT the creamed)

1/2 c finely diced chopped onion

garlic salt to taste

Mix all ingredients (I use a mixer because it is so much easier on your hands). Chill until firm. I usually make it at least 3 hours ahead or the night before. 

Serve with raw veggies of your liking.

 

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Filed under cooking, family, NaBloPoMo, recipes, Thanksgiving