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Sunday, November 28, 2010

What an amazing week!

Our week off from school/work has been amazing.  We've had days and nights filled with family, friends, love and laughter.

Keil and I hosted Thanksgiving for the very first time!  Thanksgiving Eve brought turkey prep 101 (Thanks, Ed and Keil for doing the gross parts) and wine (too much), apples-to-apples, hilarious phone calls and a new nickname to boot.  I woke up wondering why in the world I thought hosting Thanksgiving was a good idea and who let me drink all that wine, didn't they know how much I had to do???  Everything was beautiful...the table, the food, the prayer, the fellowship, the laughter and even the kids had fun. 

I have only spent Thanksgiving away from my side of the family one other year -- in 2003 when Kurt and Christine lived in Texas and had just had our niece, Mary.   So this was a big deal for me.  I missed the beautiful drive up to The Plains, the chaos of my Mom's house with all my nieces, nephews, Aunts, Uncles, Cousins but most of all Mom, Michael and Becki.  I must admit that even though I missed them, I loved having Thanksgiving in our home with family.  

Didn't I host friends too?  Well, yes -- technically they are "friends" but I have to tell you that they are more family to me than just friends.  We have shared a lot with The Weights...holidays, birthdays, milestones, blizzards, etc.  We are building family traditions, one glass of wine and turkey roasting at a time!   We have built a little village here on Grayling and the surrounding streets.  I always dreamed of raising my kids in a neighborhood like this one.  There is so much trust and love here. Even though we were missing quite a few of the Graylingers, they were with us in spirit.  One thing I know for sure?  Our kids will never forget what it was like to grow up on this street.  I know I treasure every moment we have shared and look forward to those that come.

We ended our week with down time with Mimi and PopPop (well the boys ended up going to the Briar Woods football game -- Go Falcons!) while Mimi, Kate and I crafted for a bit -- with a brief intermission of a google translator conference call and laughfest from our North Carolina family.  The weekend brought family game night with my side of the family which always means laughter.  Each of my nieces and nephews took turns reciting their Christmas wish list -- I love that.  I love to hear what they come up with -- this year it looks like it might be Cowboy boots all around.  So sweet.

Tonight I end my post with an extremely full heart.  I am so very thankful for all of the blessings in my life.  I have the love of an amazing man, kids that are happy and healthy, family that I adore and friends that I couldn't live without.   Our kiddos are in bed, Keil and I have just poured a glass of wine, lit our Christmas Tree, put on the Christmas music and dimmed the lights.  This is truly one of my favorite nights of the year.  The calm before the storm....

Until next time,

Monday, November 22, 2010

Bountiful Bliss.

It's Monday of Thankgiving week, the kids are off school (Kate is with friends, of course) and I'm sitting here typing amidst a grocery list, Target list, and of course the house needs to be cleaned.  It's easy to get caught up in the "must-do" of this week.  I must be prepared for Thankgiving Day as I am hosting for the first time ever!  I must clean (and organizing Keil's office would be an added bonus).  I must get the freshly laundered linens ironed.  I must get the kids' table set.  I must find those turkey hand towels that I packed away somewhere that I would remember where I put them.  I must get those water goblets down off the top shelf and clean them.  I must hit Total Wine.  I must clean out the garage fridge.  I could go on and on and get the idea. 

Amidst this great list, here I am typing on my blog.  Silly, right?  I just cannot get over Saturday's example of God's amazing grace out of my mind.  On Saturday morning, our dear friend and Associate Pastor, Elliott was driving home from an all-night church lock-in for our high school youth group.  He was driving on Sycolin Road toward Leesburg when he fell asleep at the wheel and his car launched off an embankment, rolled up a tree and was flung into a ditch by this tree. 
By his own account, he woke up to hear horn honking, loud cracking and feeling like he was being flipped through the air.  In the midst of this, he started yelling out a prayer, "Lord, please protect me!  Please protect me!"  After the dust settled and Elliott was pulled from the wreckage (feet first through the windshield).  He was banged up with some cuts on his hands and a broken toe.  All the Rescue Personnel, Police Officers, Doctors -- everyone told him how lucky he was to be alive --to which he gave witness:  "It wasn't luck -- God's grace abounds and he had his hand on me."  

From the looks of his car and to see him standing next to very emotional.  Elliott is not only our Pastor but he is our dear friend and a part of our family.  I cannot get him out of my mind.  

My point?  Last was easy for me to get wrapped up in all the trappings of Thanksgiving dinner, housecleaning, napkin rings, etc.  This week?  It doesn't matter if the napkins are ironed, the house is spotless or the table is set just so.  What matters is the fellowship that will take place this week amongst all my family and friends near and far.  What matters is the amazing gratitude I have to God for all the blessings in my life....I'll start with Elliott.  Thank you God for protecting Elliott from this near-fatal accident.  Thank you for reuniting him with his beautiful wife, Shannon and their precious baby girl, Lila.   I'll ask you to wrap your arms around those around me that are struggling with health issues of their own and that of their family members.  I'll ask you to put your hand on my Mother-in-law as she faces her radiation treatments for sending this breast cancer packing.  Thank you for all the love, laughter, friendship, family and goodness I have in my life.  Thank you God, I am truly grateful.

In this spirit of gratitude, I am off to spend a little quality time with my son, Wilson.  Give me the strength :)

Until next time,

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Marking my place....

I love to read.  If I could pick my favorite thing to do with a few quiet moments to myself, I would tell you there is nothing better to me than a cup of hot tea, a comfy spot and a book.  Okay -- well, maybe it would be a toss-up between crafts and reading. 

My love for a good book started very young.  In fact, I was just reminiscing with Allie about how our idea of a good time at the beginning of Middle School was a trip to the Mall (which was a treat given the fact that we lived in The Plains) and enough pocket money to buy the next book in our favorite series so we could share.  If we had enough left over?  A bookmark!!   Yes, a bookmark.

Through the years, I have built a collection of bookmarks.  Swirly, girly, funky, funny, you name it, I love it.  I love to pick up my book, open it up and that amazing book smell floods your senses (think about the scene in Sex and the City when Carrie asks Mr. Big to smell her library book "Love Letters of Great Men" -- which by the way did not exist during filming but apparently does now).  Then there's that fun bookmark holding your place for you, just waiting for you to hold it while you forge forward into the story. 

So imagine my surprise when in November 2007, my amazingly sweet husband surprises me with this new fangled piece of technology called the Kindle.  We were one of the first shipments sent out from Amazon.  He was so proud of himself -- he could not wait to give me the gift.  Kept telling me that he had outdone himself, he had the PERFECT gift for me.  I think I upset him a little when I said, "I don't think I'll use this."  He gave me the lowdown on this Kindle....I could surely see its' functionality and amazing pros when it came to travel and getting my hands on a new book.  But.....I love to go to the bookstore, I love to see the colorful covers of a book, I love the smell of a book either new or old, I love to turn the pages and what about my bookmarks???????

Ok, so I agreed to try it for a week and if I didn't love it, he would keep it for himself.  A week into having my Kindle, I was sold.  I had a paperback book on my nightstand that I had to finish and when I went back to it after having read two books on my Kindle, I was shocked that I didn't like the awkwardness of holding a book open with one hand while trying to drink my tea with the other.  My kindle in it's sweet little green case slipped nicely into my handbag so it was with me wherever I appts, carpools, etc.  And don't even get me started on how convenient it was to travel with! 

I have never given up my love for looking for a great book in the aisles of Target or Barnes & Noble, I just have adapted.  I find the books that pique my interest and write them in a list in my handy dandy IPhone and then when I need a book I access that list.  Cheaper than a hardback, too! 

Several newer editions of Kindle came out after my first one -- as much as I wanted to trade the old girl in for the latest and greatest, I didn't.  Then a reward check came in from our Amazon Visa -- I started looking at the DX (the larger Kindle) since I am so blind, I thought the larger version would be so much better for me.   This happened to be in May, and just as I was ready to hit send to order the DX, my husband walks in and sees what I'm doing.  BRAKES!!!  Why would I do that?  Blah, blah, blah.  I explained my reasoning and he said no way on earth would I be getting the Kindle DX.  Why didn't I get the IPad?  I said, no way.  I didn't need all that.  He started the sales pitch again.  I saw his point but still said no.  Yes it was only $50 difference at that point, but I really just needed it to be my book reader.  He invited me to lunch and we managed to end up at the Reston Town Center at the Apple Store.  He showed me the IPad....opened up IBooks and there it was........TWO PAGES displayed on the screen.  Sold!!!!  AND I downloaded the Kindle App and can still access my Kindle Library.  I bounce back and forth between IBooks and the Kindle App depending on which is cheaper.  Bargain Book Shopping!   I love my IPad and my Kindle has been adopted and loved by one of my besties, Teresa.  We share a love of chick lit and the trashier the better :) 

So fast forward to about six weeks ago, I was racking my brain for a gift for a friend of mine that loves to read.  I had already purchased my two favorite books to give her.  Then I get an update on one of the crafty blogs that I follow in which she referenced an issue of Somerset Life from Nov 2009 in which Vintagey Velvet Bookmarks were showcased.  I had read that magazine and thought it was such a great idea -- but filed it away.  Here it was -- front and center -- I happened to open my jewelry/bead bin and found two ribbon end clamps and some old velvet ribbon.  Hence the gift was complete and so was the brain racking!

I ended up doing the same thing for my friend Teresa two weeks ago:  my two favorite books and two velvet bookmarks.  I definitely have bookmark envy over these, especially when they were so pretty in the books.  So, I made up a bunch of them with old ribbon and findings which I will pair with my favorite book for Teacher Gifts, Love Gifts and Hostess Gifts for the upcoming holiday season.  So easy, so beautiful, so thoughtful tucked in the pages of your favorite book to pass along. 

So, find some old ribbon, earrings, charms, pendants put them together and let me see what you come up with! 

Until the next craft,



Thursday, November 18, 2010

Family traditions handed yearly ornament love gift.

There are so many things I want to teach my children, and I admit that some days when they have my nerves jangled teaching them is the last thing I have on my mind.  Of course there are the biggies, like being good citizens, using their manners at all times, having a good work ethic, and being happy, delightful individuals to name just a few.  I also want them to pass things down to their children and grandchildren someday....pumpkin muffins on the first day of school, dressing up to go to the Kennedy Center or any Theater for that matter, crazy-mixed up dinner nights, anything goes at Gabbey's house, Mimi's amazing pork tenderloin recipe, Maw-Maw's amazing potato salad and chicken salad recipe, saying grace before every meal and each person taking a turn to tell what they are thankful for or praying for that day, Christmas Eve memories to last a lifetime and I could go on, and on.  One of the biggest things I hope my kids pass down is the yearly Christmas ornament tradition. 

This tradition started when Becki, Michael and I were very young and would celebrate Christmas with our Nanny Russell (my maternal great grandmother), who passed away last month at the age of 95.   Every year we would hold those beautifully wrapped presents and wonder what could it be?  Is it that cool new boombox I want?  Nope package is too small.  Is it a new video game for the Atari?  Nope package is too small.  Is it that cute Bermuda bag that I've been wanting forever?  Nope package is too small.  I just aged myself with all that -- didn't I?  Anyhow -- those small packages always revealed a new Christmas ornament, handmade by Nanny Russell.  Sometimes they had our names on them in glitter, sometimes they were these intricately detailed sequin covered ornaments in the shape of a hot air balloon.  Each year until we were in our late teenage years she did this for us.  I did not understand the beauty of this gift until I got married and had children and we started to build our very own Christmas Tree. 

Every year we take the kids shopping for an ornament they love.  We come home, I paint the date on the bottom and they hang it on the tree.  This year, thanks to an amazing idea from my friend, Mary -- I will take pictures of each the ornaments when they come out of storage and journal the significance of the ornament.  Kate will have her own scrapbook and Wilson will have his own.  Then when they are heading out to their first home away from home I can hand them their box of ornaments with their scrapbook.  Each child also gets a nutcracker each year that I paint the date on the bottom, I will include these in that scrapbook as well.

In addition to the store bought ornaments, I make an ornament each year to share with my family.  Becki loves this tradition so much.   There have been the light bulb snowmen, the ribbon candy, monogrammed name ornaments, fingerprint embossed snowmen, fingerprint embossed rudolph, microscope slide picture ornaments, and I know there are many others I can't remember.   

While some of my friends would not even think of having a handmade ornament on their amazingly glamorous Christmas Tree, I am different.  I love the mix of glamorous ornaments, the handmade, the handprint each of the kids made in preschool, Keil's ornaments from when he was a child, ornaments from places we've been as a family and of course my ornaments from Nanny Russell.   I'm all about the meaningful ornaments. 

So as I sit here and brainstorm about my love gift ornament for this year, I wonder, what can I make this year that will be meaningful and memorable? 

I don't have any pictures of the ornaments I've made except for two -- I'm going to do that next weekend when I put the tree up.  Here are the two microscope slide ornaments I did:

If anyone has any great ideas for love gift ornaments, let me know :)  I haven't come up with anything yet.

Until the next craft,

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Now this is how you build a snowman!

Years ago, I made snowmen from ivy glass bowls (think round vase with ruffled lip), styrofoam heads and felt mittens.  My Mom and my Grandmother still get those out each year and display them.  I have been wanting to update them for awhile.  A few years ago I saw Vintage Snowmen by Sue Pelletier on the cover of Cloth, Paper, Scissors magazine.  I tore out the article and filed it in my "love gift" file so that I could update those snowmen the following Christmas.  Of course, I never did because another love gift took priority.  Yes, it's a never ending cycle.

A few weeks ago, I came across the love gift file and had decided to update those old snowmen this year.  So I started brainstorming from the Sue Pelletier Vintage Snowman supply list, where on earth will I get enough vintage bottles to make all these sparkly snowmen for my love gifts?  When will I have time to make the clay heads and roll them in diamond dust?  This is when I usually either get super charged up about a craft or it goes back into the trusty folder.  

So, I just happened to be in Homegoods -- my other home away from home -- and stumbled across all these salt and pepper shakers.  Ooooh -- different sizes, different textures, cool "hat" possibilities.   Then the old snowmen came back to me and I thought -- STYROFOAM BALLS!  And how convenient that the AC Moore is right next door to Homegoods.  Another sign!

Found some cute Wilton caketips for the hats.  Found value packs of plastic snowflakes and pearls for the filling.  The other embellishments would surely be covered by my scrapbook supplies of eyelets, brads and copper jewelry wire from my old jewelry/beading box.  Scarfs could be made from ribbon -- which again I have an abundance of from various other crafts/scrapbooking.

After the kiddos were in bed, I set out to make one snowman to see how I liked it and if I had enough hodge podge supplies to make them.  8 snowpeople later, the old supplies didn't run out but the salt and pepper shakers did. 

I had a blast making these -- using our family as inspiration -- Keil's has green eyelets for eyes, Kate, Wilson and I have blue eyelet eyes.  Wilson has a sassy copper hat with "peacock feathers" as he called them. 

I haven't been back to Homegoods scouting for more Salt n Pepper shakers, but I'm sure it won't be long.

Here is my snowpeople village that will be going to friends and family for love gifts:

 I love this little village and want to decorate my mantle with them, but that is not the point of the love gift, now is it?

Make a few for yourself or for your friends or family -- I'd love to see your twist on them!

Until the next craft,

Never say NEVER.......especially when it comes to Cancer, Tattoos and a tough Mother-in-Law.

To find humor in this journey through Breast Cancer we've been on with my Mother-in-Law, Barbara, is a true gift.  Today as she is preparing to head out to her first radiation therapy treatment, I had to call her to give her my love and support.  In the midst of this call, it turned into a side-splitting, tears rolling down your face laughfest. 

Let me give you a little background -- when I first started dating Keil and was set to meet his parents for the first time, he nervously asked me if I had any tattoos.   Then I met Barbara -- whew!  She immediately asked me if I had any tattoos and told me to spit out my gum.  Yep, she really did that.  Luckily I passed the test with no tattoos.  Barbara hates tattoos....I mean with a passion.  So much so that she told us if either of her boys got one she would disown them.  Yep, she really said that.  Well it turns out that when both Kurt and Keil got tattoos they both were scared to tell their Mother.   Well, sure enough, she found out about their tattoos!  Needless to say, she was not a happy camper and had some choice curse words for both Ritterpusch Boys but they just laughed at her like they always do.  She will tell you time and time again about her distaste for tattoos and even has the fear of wrath in Kate about them -- which I am secretly thankful for.

So fast forward to last week when her radiation oncologist told her they had to tattoo several small dots on one of her girly parts for the radiation therapy.  I could tell she wasn't in a joking kind of mood that day, so I was a supportive listener.  Today I had to tease her, so I asked her about her stance on tattoos now.....and not to worry I wouldn't tell her Boys or Kate.  As we were laughing, she said to me, "Well, Ang.....Never Say Never, right?"

It is no secret that Barbara and I have had our extreme ups and downs learning to love one another, especially in the beginning.  She has two sons, so having a very girly daughter-in-law and then here comes Kate,  her first-born grandchild, the ultimate girly-girl.  I think we put her into shock!  Years ago, in the midst of a very bad time with her, one of my dear friends told me to relax, it would get better, having Kate would change everything, one day I would love her as I do my own mother.  I remember being so head-strong and adamant and told my friend "NEVER!"

Through the years, I have grown to love her as I do my own mother.  I rely on her strength when it comes to her strong-willed grandson as she raised a son that was exactly the same way.  I am thankful to her everyday for raising Keil to be such a good husband and father.  I envy her resolve to kick this Cancer's ass every day until it's gone from her body.  I cherish all the ways she fiercely loves and adores these two little Ritterpusches of mine.  I have grown to love her quirkiness and harsh talk.  I love to watch her tough shell crumble when she sees her sons or grandchildren.  I adore the way my kids shriek when they get to see their Mimi.  She is a problem-solver like no other woman I know.  I get pure delight in watching her glide out of that convertible Mercedes in her full-length fur coat, velour running suit, precious white dog on her arm while smoking a cigarette and telling Keil he needs to pull the weeds out of the flower beds.  I love that we have learned to love one another so completely and unconditionally.

The truth is, like her and the tattoos, I should have never said never when it came to loving her.  The truth is, I adore her.

I pray every day for her to beat this cancer, after all she has grandchildren that need her there for school plays, swim meets, birthdays, holidays, graduations and even weddings someday!  Don't even get me started on all the ways that her husband, her sons and I all need her....I would be writing for weeks!

So if you get a spare moment today and you happen to be offering up prayers, please say a little one for my Mother-in-Law as she begins her radiation today. 


Locker Birthday Boards for my favorite birthday girls!

For those of you that don't have Middle Schoolers, correction -- GIRL Middle Schoolers, it is a must to decorate the locker of your besties on their birthday or in the case of my daughter who has a late summer birthday -- her half birthday.  I think it's an incredibly sweet way for these kiddos to start their birthday to come into school with all their friends cheering them on at their freshly decorated birthday locker.  Kate specifically requested something different and funky when it was her turn to do the decorating.  I decided to do something more permanent that the girls could take home and place in their room afterward.  Hence the Locker Birthday Boards (LBB) were born!

January brought Gabrielle's LBB:

Then October rolls around and it's time for Gracie's 13th.  I took Gabrielle and Kate shopping for design ideas and they really got into it!   We incorporated pictures that I have of all the girls over the last 4 years.  They did an awesome job with all their ideas incorporating her favorite things....friendship, zebras, flamingos, strawberries, volleyball and music.   Here is Gracie's LBB:

Gabrielle and Grace both loved their LBB and I can't wait to do the next one....Emily!!

Until the next craft,

Gourds, Pumpkins and Burlap, Oh My!

I find inspiration everywhere....often times I'm in a craft store and see something I want to monogram.  Last year and this year it was the small white craft pumpkins that I monogrammed as a hostess gift or just a small treat for a friend.   My friend Mary found these awesome brown, yellow and green gourds, I just had to do a brown one for a friend and of course myself.  Gold paint pen in hand with my new "I-Rock" glam setter heat tool that I used on white pumpkins, t-shirts for Halloween etc.  here is my take on the brown gourd:

Here is a pic of the white craft pumpkins that are outside my front door and that my dear neighbors chase down the street for me when we get a big gust of wind...haha!  I seem to add a new one each year...

and then we have the burlap.  I absolutely love the look of burlap, but boy is it messy.  My freshly cleaned craft room was a dusty, burlapy mess after a rotary cutterfest for this Thanksgiving banner.   After cutting the banners, I then hand-stamped a swirl in cosmic copper and burgundy glitz ink in each corner.  I then monogrammed each flag to spell out "Be Grateful".   I took a coordinating ribbon and glued it down on the banner and accented with a few rusty gold hydrangea petals.  I put it up in my dining room for our Thanksgiving Day dinner.  My first time hosting Thanksgiving -- which means I have to cook the turkey.  That's an entirely different panic attack I'm trying to put off right now :)
Here is the banner:

I was planning for these awesome monogrammed burlap napkin rings, but have re-thought that idea as I don't want shedding burlap on the plates at the table.  Not to mention all that dust triggered a sneezefest for Keil and Wilson, so I am on to Plan B for the monogrammed napkin rings.  I'll keep you posted on that progress.

Until the next craft,

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Yes, Virginia, those are brown coffee filters!

So imagine my surprise when I'm trying to come up with an alternative to burlap napkin rings for Thanksgiving and I stumble across coffee filter crafting.   Then I discover they have natural colored coffee filters in all their ruffley goodness!  I was sold and my mind was racing.  I immediately set-out for Michael's (in Leesburg because the people in Sterling know me on a first name basis now) got a wreath and stopped into Target on the mission for the natural colored coffee filters.

I came home and set out for the recently organized craft/scrapbook studio/office.  I covered the straw wreath with satin off-white ribbon -- burned myself a few times with hot glue and then rubbed the edges of the coffee filters with a gilded gold and coffee brown inkpad.  Then I was ready to hot glue the filters.  I loved every sparkly, messy minute of it -- even though my eyes went cross, I stayed up too late and I'm pretty sure I have about 17 HG (hot glue) blisters. 

Here is a pic of the finished product!

It was amazingly easy and VERY inexpensive.....200 coffee filters for $0.87 and I think I used 100.  It's an awesome idea for a love gift or two for Christmas.  My mind is racing with ideas for other holidays....Valentine's Day (white filters with red or pink tipped edges)....St. Patricks Day...
Easter....4th of July.  Oh and did I mention letter shaped ruffley goodness?

This is me on craft overload signing off for the night.....I think I might need to start a chapter of Crafters' Anonymous.

Until the next craft,

Blog? Me? Never!

Well here I am....never saying never again.

After many crafty calls with my sister-friend, Allie, I decided to see what all this hype about blogging is about.  Oh, and maybe to stop boring all my Facebook friends with multiple pictures of my COTD (craft of the day).   I'm fairly certain that while I think these posts/pictures are utterly amazing, some of my best friends that are male are just rolling their eyes at me, calling me Gladys and skipping right through.

I'm not a gifted writer, just a girl that has a passion for all things arts and crafty.  My goal is to share my twist on things that I've seen or dreamed up one post at a time. 

Until next time,