Friday, December 12, 2014

getting into Christmas

I've had a hard time getting into the Christmas spirit this year. Busyness, decorating loads at work, the warm weather (not that I'm complaining...) might be the cause. My box of Christmas decorations has been sitting on the kitchen table for a week & I had ornaments half hung & unfinished paperwork littering the counters & my Christmas cards were glaring at me, unstamped, & I was starting to feel Scrooge-ish. It made me a little sad to realize I wasn't excited about Christmas & that I was turning cynical & losing my joy of making spirits bright & festive. And I know Christmas is so much less about glass baubles & cards & perfectly wrapped presents & new sayings on my chalkboard & snowflake cutouts glittering on my glass cakestand & so much more about Jesus. I kept telling myself if I never finished decorating, Christmas wasn't any less joyful for the birth of my Savior. And maybe, I should forget decorating & focus on that instead. But whatever it is that makes me love pretty things & having a proper apron for Christmas baking finally kicked into gear & I got everything hung & lit. As shallow as it may be, it got me in the Christmas spirit to see gold & red sparkly orbs in my window. 
It cheers my heart to see little wreaths in my windows. Between showers, I cut off a bunch of cedar boughs & spruce. I haven't minded the gray & rain yet, but ask me again in February. There are some sweet red & white berries growing in our backyard this time of year, so I helped myself to some. I have no idea what they are...but they dress up a wreath very nicely!

 I put some of the extra bunting I made for work on our windows. Here are a few shots of what the store looks like. 

 Along with decorating, I've been baking madly. Without any major mismeasuring, thank goodness. These little 5 inch cakes are going to be a mini layer chocolate truffle cake. How's that for a mouthful? (I could make that really hokey, but I'll spare you.)
I also baked some raspberry cream cheese rolls--a Sinn favorite--& macarons for a fundraising bake sale church puts on every year. I also make a triple chocolate mousse cake for the Sinn family Christmas tonight. I do love baking. And aprons always make it better. Plus, I really do need one, as messy as I am. 

So now, my house is ready for Christmas, even if I'm not totally. But it will be fine. What really matters is that 2,000 years ago, there was born to us a Savior, Counselor, Almighty God, the Everlasting Father. Help me remember that next year!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

in everything give thanks

DIY paper medallions are an inexpensive party decoration. Find out how to make them here:

Scattered. That's how I feel lately. But content. Very content & happy. I bounce from one project to the next, one event to the next, one idea to another. When I'm not at work, I feel like all I've been doing is making pretty things. Which makes me VERY happy. 
I've been very blessed at my job to have been given the responsibilities of making the store look pretty & festive. They let me work on projects at home & pay me for it...I know. I KNOW! With Christmas around the corner, in retail circles anyway, (good grief, give me Thanksgiving first!) I've been madly making old book page pinwheels inspired by those above. An old calligraphy book I rescued from that old shed the Sinns tore down last year offered up some pretty yellowed pages. I'm painting some branches white & hanging ornaments from them in the store, too. Maybe I'll get around to decorating my own house again.
We're planning to fly to Ohio on Christmas Day though, so I'm not sure how much decorating I'll do. That's when it's really awesome that I decorate the store--I get my festive fix in somehow!
Just a photo of my work space to keep it real. 
All this crafting is making me antsy to dive into a little dream I've had for a while now. I'd love to start an esty shop. One that sells useful, pretty things. Things I can make with my hands. Things that will be reached for,seen, & used daily, that could be ugly & ordinary, but instead are beautiful. Things that will brighten up a mundane task of a stay-at-home mom. Not useless things though. Like a sturdy apron perhaps, with big pockets & one for a cell-phone. But in a vintage floral pattern with a big flower just because. Or an art print with one of my favorite verses on it to remind what really matters. Or a set of thank-yous to spread the love & gratitude. Or a beyond-cute pair of knitted maryjanes for a certain little someone. So far, I've made a grand total of one thing for it. My goal is to have a collection ready to post by February, just in time to have a newborn & not be able to work on it for a few weeks:). 
It's been exciting to dream about though. And it's making me more anxious than ever to meet this little one growing away inside me. (Which is a strange, beautiful, amazing concept.) The weeks have been passing, some quickly, some not. But here I am, at 23 weeks, with a baby over a pound making himself felt daily now! Darwin can feel the kicks & nudges now & I love how giddy it makes him. Sharing this time with him has been great for our marriage. I was a little worried how it would change things, & to be honest, he's gotten a little more apprehensive as reality sinks in. But we're both terribly excited & can't wait to meet him/her!
This is my one grand project for the future etsy shop: it sums up my thoughts right now. The good, the bad, the hard, the lovely, the disappointments, the broken water heaters, the rain, the cold.
Til next time, 

knitting life lessons

It's that time of year again, when the knitting bug bites & all I want to do is curl up in front of the fire with my needles. I'm a "foul-weather" knitter (good one, huh?). I've been working on a little hat, for the latest addition to our's been challenging. It isn't just knitting, but I have a chronic problem of biting off more than I can chew. Why wait til you know what you're really doing to start projects labeled "advanced"? This is only my third project...and it's been getting the better of me from the start. This beautiful yarn came all the way from Connecticut where two sisters have recently started their own business dying yarn. They do a wonderful job, by the way, & I would recommend checking them out at Anyway, being the novice that I am, & never having received a real, hand-crafted skein of yarn, I impatiently dove right into this project. Did you know that you have to wind yarn before you start knitting? Sometime during my knitting lessons, I'm pretty sure this was covered. If you don't, you end up with a tangled mess of yarn that takes a long time to unravel. But I was so enamored with this little hat & maryjane booties that I just started knitting from the first end I found. Bad, bad idea. It took me days to untangle it all. Darwin suggested just buying a new skein after watching me painfully & tediously pulling yards & yards of yarn through loops. It was tempting. But this was special yarn, you know? And then, I started the hat. It has a sweet little scalloped edge & the rest is just a garter stitch, so I thought I could tackle it. No less than 12 times ripping out all my work & starting over, I finally figured it out. There's even a youtube video of the project I found (after the tenth time of course). So now, I've been whipping through it & soon, I'll have a charming little hat:).
This project made me think back to my college days. I don't like to quit or give up. Sometimes, I do. But I don't like it. One of the hardest things I've ever done, & it was only done by the grace of God, was quit college halfway through. I don't resent Him for it. It was His perfect plan for my life, & I see a little bit of the "why" now. Had I not, I'd have missed out on a year & a half with my dear family in Illinois. I'd have gone straight from college graduation to Oregon (if the timeline for marriage were still the same). There were some hard lessons I learned on contentment & patience while between college & marriage. Those days were sometimes dark & I didn't understand why He had me do it. I'm sure I still don't know all the reasons why.
But I'm so glad I did. God is greater & stronger & His ways are higher than my ways, & I don't know if I would understand that the way I do now had I finished college according to my plan. That experience proved to me that I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me & by relying on His power, not my own, I can do anything He asks me to do. Even if it doesn't make sense & seems impossible. Even if it's giving up cherished dreams & a sense of security about my future. I had no way of knowing when I quit college that two years later, a wonderful man would ask me to marry him. All I saw was a bleak future alone  & degree less, stuck working minimum pay jobs I hated. But God is so faithful!
Here I am, knitting a baby hat, dreaming of a sweet little one to wear it. Every time I have a doctor's appointment & they tell me everything looks normal & great even, I feel unworthy. There are times I morbidly think, "God has prepared me for disappointment before. What if this baby is born with defects? Or worse, not born to live at all?" And, that could happen. And God would be right in doing it because it's His perfect plan, my mine. Not that I want that to happen: I pray it won't. But if it would, I know His strength is perfect & it would be bearable. And one day even, I could thank & praise Him for it.
Now, how did I get that from knitting?
*i finished it after starting this blog post. I haven't made the flower know, it might be a boy. 

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

tuesdays with olivia

I get to spend Tuesday afternoons with my newest & only Oregon niecey. She's a sweet pea. We get along great. I do my thing & she scoots around on my slick wood floor, dusting under the chairs, etc. It's really good practice & is giving me an idea of what we'll need to deck our apartment out with when baby comes. (I'll take recommendations, people. Any tips on strollers? I want a jogging one, but I'm not sure what kind...thanks!) I hope baby's happy with my old toys & Dar's lone tractor...I dislike plastic, primary-colored toys! But alas, I think that's what catches infant's eyes. Olivia doesn't seem to mind our sad collection: right now, she's happy with a glass to chew on & pretend to drink out of. And books. She eats out of the same Precious Moment dish I ate out of. She doesn't complain about having to sleep on the floor. 
It's amazing to me how fast she evolves: I'm a little worried what's going to happen next week, because I'm afraid she's going to be crawling. Last week, she couldn't get up on her hands & knees. This week, she was, & rocked back & forth, intent on moving. Next week...gotta babyproof the place! Also, sorry for the blurriness of the photos. I dropped my camera on the pavers when I was getting out of my car & now the autofocus is having some issues. It was quite traumatic, I can assure you! Not sure if I'm going to allow myself to get a new lens--at least not til after the pregnancy's over!
 **no babies were hurt in the taking of these pictures. Uncle Dar loves his little niecey too, & was very excited to see her. It gets me all mushy inside to think of him with our little one. To hear him coming up our apartment steps after a day's work & scoop up little babes & smother him/her with love & kisses...can't wait!

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

"I'm so glad..."

"I live in a world where there are Octobers," to quote Anne Shirley. Even better are Octobers spent with family & autumn leaves & easy-going mornings. We spent 5 days back in Illinois last week, & it was pure loveliness. It's always nice to be back with my family & childhood surroundings, but it was especially nice this time. Maybe it was that Darwin was with me, & I got to watch him interact (superbly, I might add) with my niblings. That man is going to make a fabulous father! Maybe it's that we left gray rain for sunset-hued leaves contrasted against fall blue skies & barely-sweater-wearing weather. Maybe it all the family time & one-on-one time with the niblings. Maybe it was because it was okay that I was okay with all the changes that have happened & that while I'll always have part of me in Illinois, Oregon is mostly home now, & that's normal. It isn't so hard to go back & see what I'm missing, & then leave. Maybe it was a spunky niece who immediately loved me & was my little shadow. (They still remember their Aunt Jenna, sniffle!) Something has shifted. It was lovely to be back.
 First time I got to see this little guy in person. He was too shy to meet me in July. He is well-loved by his siblings.

 Dar & I spent a little time out at the Aberle farm: never a dull moment here. I was privileged enough to help with egg-collecting chores. Which I love. And these are eggs you actually have to hunt for. David has a favorite chicken, "Blackie" (below), that he loves because it's the runt & the lone male survivor. This makes me love him.

 We played baseball with yes, a soccer ball, because "Roxy's not very good at hitting the baseball." They were impressed with their aunt's hitting skills. Mad skills, let me tell you.
 We spent quite a bit of time outside, because like I said, it was so beautiful! Alex took us back to the timber & showed Dar around. Those two get along famously. Which works out well, since their wives get along quite well too.

 For Dan's 62nd birthday, we had a German meal (schnitzel, spaetzle, red cabbage, vinegary beans, etc.) & made hot pretzels later. The kids all had a blast rolling out & shaping pretzels.
 Babies are a hot commodity in the Dotterer clan right now. I've no fears ours won't be deeply loved & cared for. (No doubts about that in the Sinn fam either, for that matter.)
 Dar helped Dan lay some pavers outside the shop. He likes some small projects, but is just as happy to get the lay of the land & observe harvest as it's done here. I don't worry about him getting bored.
 Taking the scooter out for a cruise around the neighborhood with our favorite lisping nephew. He wore his "OSU" (Oregon State, not Ohio State:) ) shirt Dar bought him for his birthday last year when he knew Darwin was coming over. How sweet is that? My nephews have such fun talking hunting, trapping, things that move faster than this girl likes to go, etc. with Dar.

 A rare moment of sweet repose for two-thirds of this photo. Not that they aren't sweet, just not reposeful. Notice the shiner on David? That sums him up. That & when he asked me, "Have you ever set any animals on fire?"
 And this photo. Love.
 Mad was frequently in a pink princess dress, behaving much like a princess. She was a little shy around Darwin & would look at him winsomely up through her demure eyelashes. Me on the other hand, she followed around. WIN! I had the warm fuzzies for days.
Oh, these boys. Gotta love little blondies & their dark-haired uncle. River was probably the most changed since last time. He just seems so big: he's lost that toddler look & stretched out & grown up.
 Most of the times we spent together were in Mom & Dan's new shed. It was great: hardly a shed, it has a large roomy kitchen, bathroom with shower, & upstairs were Dar & I's new quarters for all future visits home. I wasn't sure how I'd feel being away from family in our own "house", in a room that was new & not one I grew up in. But let me tell you, it was perfect. Enough space & privacy, but tons of opportunity for togetherness. Mad & Riv spent one (restless) night with us, but otherwise, we had it to ourselves at night. Coming back to Oregon, it almost seems like we weren't there. But I've got recent visions of all my little niblings & a taste of a good ol' Midwest fall under my belt now. 

I thank God we have a little money for travel, & that I have a family I love so dearly, & that now my husband loves dearly. Until next time,


Monday, October 13, 2014

Apple cider: farm life update no. 4

Is there anything that epitomizes fall better than a good ol' apple cider making?
The Sinn's have no lack of apple trees (as they have no lack of anything growable in The Valley) & they have a charming propensity towards self-sustainability. Everyone chips in. Maybe not for the entire process, but at some point or another, they'll all wander by & turn the crank for a bit.

Riley was the main help this time. I had to include the photo above: when I asked him to pose with his cute basket of apples, he said in complete seriousness & innocence, "Here, let me fill it up so it looks better." And proceeded to rob the communal crate to garnish his basket. Don't tease him or he'll be even more camera shy.

We did enough cider to be fun & drink fresh, then spent the rest of the lovely fall day touring the farm & smelling the change of the seasons in the air.

The blueberry bushes are starting to gently put on their winter crimson. It's a mercy of God that He gives us some warmth in the landscape during the rainy, gray days of a Willamette Valley winter (which I have yet to experience: last winter was lovely.) 
And here, a photo, albeit unflattering, of my bump. Dar's been taking my camera more. I thought he was napping in the grass & took a little stroll through the hazelnut. That's when he caught me in this photo. It's hard to be the one in front of the camera, unless, cough cough, I have properly primped, but I really do want more photos of our everyday life for posterity. Which is a reality now. Strange. Anyway, you can see my baby belly coming on! 
This also counts as farm life update no. 4, btw.