Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Christmas reflections . . .

For the past several Christmas times, we have been slowly decreasing the gifts that we give to each other.  In fact, last year we sort-of skipped Christmas altogether!  It could have something to do with moving during Christmas break time, but it also had to do with not making Christmas a time where we get all kinds of stuff.  We aren't opposed to Christmas or celebrating with gift giving, but we have just moved to a more relaxed kind of Christmas season, not full of shopping and fighting with the crowds of Holiday shoppers.

In contrast, as well as getting a Christmas Tree, this year we decided to give gifts to each other.  Mostly hand-made items.  The children all made things for each other and for Ildi and I, and it was great to see the types of things they come up with.

Shawn and Sherri, friends of ours forever it seems, gave us an ornament each year with our names on it.  We had collected 6 from them over the years and the last two children didn't have one.  This year, Asher decided that he wanted to make one for Maine and Gresham.  Thoughtful young man.  He chose a snowman and a candy cane as the design and I helped him with the drawing and the painting.  He cut them out using the scroll saw and sanded them.  We used the previous ones to model after so they looked like they all form a set.  It was a great gift item for the both of them.  He made a business card holder for me, a wooden pencil holder for Nolan.
Macy developed several items for the family.  For me she sewed a small, satin bag filled with herbs to put in my dresser drawers, and some homemade salve. She made Ildi a knitted, coffee cup warmer, and other items for their brothers and sisters.

Maine crafted small, sewn bookmarks for everyone.  I added a lapel pin to mine and have been wearing it as an art tapestry on my shirt for the day.

Amory up cycled wool sweaters and socks to create some fabulous  useful, costume items.  For Asher she made "armor" from an old, gray, wool sweater I had given her.  For Nolan and I she used wool socks to make wrist warmers.  And she made wool hoods for the girls and Gresham.

Since Nolan has a job and has been making money this past year, he decided to buy some useful gifts for the family.  It hard to see him grow up so much.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

new heating plan . . .

Since the chalkboard work is still continuing, I had to come up with a heating plan for the wood shop.  For weeks now it has been really cold.  Like 7 in the mornings and in the 20's during the day.  I was having to go out in the shop at night after supper for a couple of hours, and spend a little time as well on the weekends out there.  When I had orders for chalkboards, I found myself out in the wood shop completely bundled up and working on them dreading the chill.  (I have been using a hair dryer to heat the paint cans up so they will spray nicely, and every now and again using a propane burner to take the edge off the cold) It has not been great to use the cold, steel table saw, or to wear gloves while I am trying to sand small edges on the boards.

So I decided to come up with a heating plan!  A plan that would utilize some of the things I had here at home, and if I needed to purchase anything, it would be minimal.  First was the stove.  I had a wood burning stove that I bought last year and used in the house until the wood cook stove came in.  I was storing it in the foyer planning on building a fireplace sometime.  Since it wasn't being used yet, I decided to use it out in the shop to keep the place a little warmer, and to help the paint dry on the chalkboards. I picked up some stainless steel stovepipe from an Amish friend of mine, and then had another metalworker make some mounting brackets for me.  I spent just under $60.00 for all the stuff.  I had some older stovepipe that I was going to be using on the inside, and also needed to purchase a couple of more things at the home improvement store in town.  I ripped some of the insulation off the ceiling in the garage and tore off the flammable paper backing for some insulation around the thimble that passes through the wood wall.  And out in the horse barn I found some sheet galvanized steel that I cut, painted, and applied to the wall as a "flashing" of sorts.  

This is what I came up with.  A pipe that runs up the side of the wood shop about 12 inches away from the wall.  I have been monitoring how hot it gets and even when the fire is RAGING in the stove, the brackets and the wall are still as cold as it is outside.  The pipe gets hot right as it comes out of the wall, but the further up it goes, the cooler it is.  And this is my new wood work shop area with a fire in it.  I start the fire around 9:00 am and by 10:00 the wood shop is a comfortable 60 degrees!  GREAT working temperature.

I told the children that I probably should have done this during the summer.  It would have been a little easier to work with the tools outside!  Hey . . . I am still on the learning curve.  :)

Saturday, December 18, 2010

adding some new decorations . . .

Last year we didn't have a tree during the Christmas season.  We were right in the midst of moving, and decorating for the holidays was not a priority.  In fact, we skipped the traditional Christmas we usually have.  

This year, since we are now settled, I asked the children if they wanted to decorate for Christmas time by getting a tree.  They all decided that we should, and they wanted to go to a live Christmas tree farm.  So, last week on a snowy Sunday, we went and picked out this tree.  I brought my chainsaw along just in case we had to cut it ourselves.  As a side note, it is so much nicer using a chainsaw than a hand saw to cut on the truck of a tree.  While in Los Angeles, there was no need for me to have a chainsaw so each Christmas that we got a live tree, I had to spend a whole lot of energy cutting a tree trunk with a handsaw.  :)

Once we got it home, the children decorated it.  Each year we use the handmade paper items we have made over the years, and some of the ones we purchased.  This year I decided to add some other ornaments to the mix as well.  Mini chalkboards that Macy wrote words on.
Paper garland with Rejoice printed on it.
And some partially budded branches.
I do enjoy having a tree inside for Christmas time.  Not sure why, maybe out of habit, but I like it.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

wrecking Christmas . . .

I would have never thought that Nolan would have wrecked one of the vehicles so soon after getting his license.  Yet, that is exactly what happened.  Thank God he and Amory weren't hurt at all, and it could have been much worse than what it was.

He was traveling down a country road on his way to the barn where he and Amory train horses.  After coming out of the woods section he ran into some REALLY slippery ice and lost control of the van.  A few seconds later, they were in a field, after having hit a ditch, and the van was on it's SIDE!  They probably slid ten to fifteen feet before they came to a stop.

We got a call from him saying he wrecked the van, and they were on their way home.  Since both if them were not hurt at all, and not even really shaken up, I told them to have the lady they work with to just take them to the barn to do their work and I would come to pick them up.  On my way there, I was greeted by the sheriff and was instructed to bring them back to the site of the accident.  A couple of hours later we left, cold, and a little bewildered what we were going to do with our inoperable vehicle.

The tow company took the van, reset the wheels that were popped, and checked all the fluids.  We got away with some minor cosmetic damages, missing a mirror, and the door and window will need a little work.  Thank God again for His grace for our lives!