Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Random Bits: Christmas Wrap-Up Edition

The only rules that really matter are these: what a man can do and what a man can't do. For instance, you can accept that your father was a pirate and a good man or you can't. But pirate is in your blood, boy, so you'll have to square with that some day. And me, for example, I can let you drown, but I can't bring this ship into Tortuga all by me onesies, savvy? So, can you sail under the command of a pirate, or can you not? –Captain Jack Sparrow, Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl

Calling this a wrap-up post isn't quite accurate since you get pretty much everything about Christmas this year in one post. But I love a good pun, so just go with it.

What I Can Do
In the past few weeks I've been thinking a lot about what I can't do. Perhaps there has been some tiny shift in the cosmos that has caused time to speed up, and therefore, I can't get as much done in one day as I used to. Quite possibly, my responsibilities at work have increased and I have 10 to 15 fewer hours each week to work with, depending on the week. Or maybe I just overestimate my abilities. Whatever the case, it seems like there is an awful lot of stuff that I can't do.

I just celebrated my 2-year anniversary at work. Since I started working, I've been struggling with finding the right balance. And I've never actually considered myself as "working." In my head, this has only been a temporary thing. Two years is less temporary than I'd hoped. We have a plan in place, which makes my employment status even more less temporary. But I'd still like to think of it as temporary. What's a couple more years, right?

In the meantime, I'll continue to work on balance. I've been finishing far fewer projects and blogging a lot less than I would like to. And it will probably have to stay that way for a while. LadyBug, Grasshopper and Mr. Bug are my top priority, and that is how it should be. In the mean time, I'm going to focus on what I can do, for and with my family as well as my personal pursuits.

Neighbor Gifts 2012: Felted Wool Ornaments
It is with the "what I can do" mindset that I approached my Christmas crafting this year. I love to give handmade gifts. But there just wasn't time to do something for everyone on my list. So, I focused on what I could do. In our neighborhood, we have a tradition of taking around a little something to each other. Over the years, I've done several different things, but my favorite thing, by far, is to make ornaments. I've been collecting ideas for handmade Christmas ornaments, and have decided that I'm never going to bake and decorate 42 dozen sugar cookies, or mix up 250 servings of minty hot cocoa mix ever again. Granted, making an ornament for each family on my list probably takes the same amount of time, but there are so many fewer dirty dishes that it is worth it.

This year, I didn't get started on my ornament making until the 20th, but I was determined to get it done. My brother got married on the 15th and I was trying to get a quilt done for him {still working on that}, as well as make skirts and blouses for LadyBug and me for the wedding. I also had work and laundry and snow shoveling and life to fit in there. And then there was the matter of finding the right felt for the job. I was inspired by the pretty red felted wool ornaments P. made and who graciously shared her pattern, but was going to make due with some cheap acrylic felt. After further consideration, I decided that felted wool was the only way to go, but wasn't sure if I'd be able to find the right wool item to thrift/get enough thrifted wool to make my ornaments so I bought a yard of winter white wool at JoAnn's {thank you 50% off coupon} and felted it. I'm not 100% sure, but I think I saved money by buying wool yardage and felting it myself vs. buying felted wool at a quilt shop.

This year, I had 55 families on my list. I know. I'm nuts. Once you make my list, the only way to get off is to move and not leave a forwarding address. As I assessed the situation, I realized that I could not get 55 ornaments done and delivered by the 24th. A few cuts had to be made. Since our families have the gift of us, I crossed off members of both mine and Mr. Bug's families, reducing the number of ornaments to be made in 3½ days from 55 to 38. Here are 25 of the 36 I finished before Christmas. 11 had already either been hand delivered or mailed out when I took this and I still have two more to make and send out. Obviously, those are going to arrive after all the decorations have been put away. But it's the thought that counts, right?

Yes, I'm feeling the guilt for cutting our family members from the list. But it was what I could do. I'm starting next year's ornaments tomorrow so I don't have to leave anyone off the list.

My 2012 Finishes

Christmas Greetings
Not everyone who gets a Christmas card gets an ornament, but everyone who gets an ornament also gets a card. Again, the only way to get off the list is to move and not leave a forwarding address. Even then, I may still track you down. We send out 108 cards this year. I've tried to cut my list, but it is pointless. I don't want anyone to feel left out. That includes you, so I hope you won't mind a virtual card.

The Great iOS Debate: Escalated
Ever since the iPhone came out {in 2007, I believe}, I've wanted one. The problem is, I think it is absolutely ridiculous to pay $80 a month for service. When the iPad came out, I kind of lost interest in the iPhone, because an iPad seemed much more useful. I discussed this at great length several months ago, when the iPhone became available through Virgin Mobile, but the debate was tabled because we needed a new oven.

After Thanksgiving, the prices of the iPhone 4S dropped and I decided that it was time. To tell you how truly busy things have been around here, I've had this awesome new piece of technology in my possession for 2½ weeks now and haven't blogged a peep about it.

As a matter of fact, I've already dropped it hard enough to break it, if it weren't for the OtterBox I got to go with it. You can see the divot on the bottom corner, there.

Apple iPhone 4S, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways. OK. I won't. Because if I did, I'd go on and on and on for more than you all would care to read. I'm guessing that a lot of people have already lost interest in this extremely long post and quit reading two subtitles ago. So in the interest of keeping it interesting, or at least from getting more long winded and boring, I'll cut straight to the chase. I love my iPhone SO MUCH that I now want an iPad also. Or maybe an iPad Mini. Or maybe both. It is that awesome.

Christmas Joy
Christmas at Bug Cottage was pretty good this year. Mr. Bug and I had the shopping done by the 19th and I have enjoyed watching everyone enjoy their presents. As for me, aside from the iPhone, which is part Christmas and part because it was time for a new phone, I think my favorite gift was a Gingher rotary cutter from my Mom. It was unexpected, unnecessary and extravagant. In other words, it was perfect.

I've already put it to use. About 2½ years ago, Shay and I did a fabric exchange. I sent her some random bits of brown and pink fabrics and she sent me a completely awesome layer cake of Sparkle All the Way. Since then, I've been on the look-out for the perfect quilt to put it to use in. I entertained several ideas, but nothing seemed just right. A couple of weeks ago, I was inspired by the Brights Christmas Quilt Amy over at Diary of A Quilter put together. I hopped on over to her Etsy shop to check out the pattern she used, and found an even better fit for the layer cake. I ordered some Remix dots, found a couple of the Sparkle All the Way prints, as well as some prints from a couple other Robert Kaufman Christmas lines, and voilá. I have a complete kit for one fantastic Christmas quilt. For sometime in the future. Don't mock. It's what I can do right now. And it's all cut out for when I finally get around to it.

We Three Kings
I know Christmas was yesterday, but The Piano Guys' awesomeness doesn't have an expiration date.


Ann Marie @ 16 Muddy Feet said...

Love, love, love the ornaments, you did a fantastic job on them. Great photo card, love the sexy shoes! That rotary cutter looks too awesome to use. Your Christmas quilt will look fantastic when it is done too. I would place it next to the machine and stitch a few blocks every time you sit to sew. Eventually it will all be done.

Paulette said...

I am blown away by your beautiful felted wool ornaments! They are absolutely perfect! Look at that quilting around each circle (and I know how small those circles are, so yeah, blown away)!

LOVE the Christmas quilt you have cut out and ready to go. That rotary cutter looks like it means business and is built to last. It's like the Rolls Royce of cutters. Lucky you!

Glad you like your new iPhone!

Christine M said...

Your ornaments are beautiful Elizabeth. I hope you and your family had a lovely Christmas.

mom said...

Yea! it as always fun to get the perfect gift and have it be a great surpise too! Love your ornaments!

Lane said...

Just catching up...Good grief, I've been reading every day and I"m only up to Christmas. I loved the peace I felt while I was reading your post. Peace, contentment, relaxation. Happiness. Be well. Lane

Jennifer Lovell said...

Elizabeth, your ornaments are completely gorgeous and I love having one on my tree! (Hope it's okay for me to say on here that I got one). I am so thrilled to have it! Thanks, too, for the fun card and letter. I appreciated all the time you took to compose that and send it to me. It was fun to know all of the details in your update :)! Love you!

Shay said...

Balance is a difficult thing to achieve especially when you are juggling work responsibilities. I spent last year just going with the flow and trying to stress less about the things that didn’t get done.

Love your felted ornaments but honestly are you insane getting that many done? I take my hat off to you. You really are a marvel!

Your Christmas card is wonderful. Great family and individual photos . You seriously look fabulous.

Im so glad you found a use for that fabric. Cant wait to see what genius comes out of your sewing room!