January gray

I love these scenes of January. I think January is the most colorless month - which isn't a bad thing. In fact, to me, the lack of color can be very calming.

I took these photos in Millville - a small town in our beautiful valley where my brother lives. I'm fascinated by the rows of trees that were planted by the early settlers - usually Lombardy poplars or tall thin Box Elder trees.

The rows of trees were planted along the ditch banks to secure the soil and serve as a wind break. In January, they're gray and leafless, and you really notice their height and numbers.

One of the wonders of nature to me is when the cold, crisp air deposits layers of frost on the branches of weeds and bushes, giving them a flocked appearance that reminds me of the Christmas trees of my childhood. On those days, if the sun is shining, the air sparkles with glitter - all natural, of course.

This is the Millville cemetery. More gray - even the headstones echo the gray theme. And ever so sad for the family I observed standing around a hole that had been dug in frozen ground.

And finally, a common January scene here in northern Utah - the blustering wind and snow of a late-night mountain blizzard. I took this photo one night on my way home from Salt Lake City as I survived a fist-clenching, steering-wheel-gripping drive through Sardine Canyon. One good thing, I did not get sleepy while driving that night.
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been there, done that

Pantone announces TURQUOISE as its new COLOR of the YEAR for 2010.

From the Pantone website: “In many cultures, Turquoise occupies a very special position in the world of color,” explains Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Color Institute®. “It is believed to be a protective talisman, a color of deep compassion and healing, and a color of faith and truth, inspired by water and sky. Through years of color word-association studies, we also find that Turquoise represents an escape to many – taking them to a tropical paradise that is pleasant and inviting, even if only a fantasy.”

Whether envisioned as a tranquil ocean surrounding a tropical island or a protective stone warding off evil spirits, Turquoise is a color that most people respond to positively. It is universally flattering, has appeal for men and women, and translates easily to fashion and interiors. With both warm and cool undertones, Turquoise pairs nicely with any other color in the spectrum. Turquoise adds a splash of excitement to neutrals and browns, complements reds and pinks, creates a classic maritime look with deep blues, livens up all other greens, and is especially trend-setting with yellow-greens.

[Insert from Debbie - well I'll be darned! Just my luck! Back in 1991 I decorated my whole basement in this very color of turquoise - we called it "teal" back then. The bathroom trim looked just like the photos in the photo grid. The carpet was turquoise and the walls in the TV room were a deeper more sophisticated turquoise. We loved it for ten years then hated it for eight. Tore it all out and repainted a year and a half ago. If only we'd known!! We could be so "IN" right now. Word to the wise - don't use much of this color - you get tired of it REALLY fast.]

The turquoise announcement is being blogged about on all the design blogs on the 'net. Here's what Apartment Therapy said on their blog:

We've always known that Apartment Therapy has some forward thinking readers and you just proved us right again! Turquoise was recently named Pantone's Color of the Year for 2010, but many of you have been infusing turquoise into your decor for the past few years. It must be because you already recognized its strength - having both warm and cool tones it compliments an endless array of colors. See grid of photos for reader examples - thanks to the Apartment Therapy website.


:: cool tool ::

This is called the Skil Power Cutter. Scott bought it for 50% off at Lowe's in December. He didn't really know what it was, but, hey, it was a good sale. Turns out, it's a great little gadget, and we use it all the time. Oh, btw, in the photos below, Scott is doing the demonstrating of the tool. Those are his hands, not mine. I'll never let my hands be in a close-up photo again - but that's another story.

You know how annoying it is to open one of those plastic packages of batteries - or kids' toys, or, well, about anything. Once I darn near poked my eye out trying to get a curling iron out of its packaging (in a big hurry with dull scissors, of course.) This Skil Power Cutter just buzzes right through any small job. It will cut through paper, cardboard, plastic, and more. Just get one of these in a guy's hands and you'll find out everything it will cut lol.

Have I told you about my five-year project to use up all my lotions, shampoos, conditioners etc. before I buy anything new? (I keep forgetting and buying new lotion; that's why it'll take five years.) Anyway, I finished off my tube of Bath and Body Mango Mandarin lotion - it's a favorite that I've used for years, and I hated to see it run out. I absolutely can't buy more until I use up that nasty-smelling Sun-ripened Raspberry and that awful Vaseline Intensive Care lotion from the Best Western hotel I can't remember where.

I wanted to get the last drop out of the tube of nice orange stuff (I'm being thrifty), so I had Scott (using his new tool) cut the tube open, and there I found about two generous portions of lotion left inside. Yippee for the Skil Power Cutter!

There is info about the cutter and other tools on a very interesting review-website called ToolSnob.com.
Here is what they say:

"Skil has definitely shown themselves to be interested in innovation. We loved last year's Power Wrench and we're looking forward to the benchtop tools they're releasing. In the meantime, t
hey've slipped out the Power Cutter. It's a light-duty cutter powered by an 3.6 volt internal lithium-ion battery.

The Skil Cutter isn't the most aggressive tool you'll ever hold in your hand and it's not supposed to be. It's meant for small tasks. The packaging says that it can cut selected materials up to 1/4" thick. The list includes leather, wallpaper, cardboard, and carpet.

And cut it does. We tested it out on a variety of materials. The Cutter went through paper and cardboard with no problem. Then it easily (and happily) diced up an 80 page Pottery Barn catalog. But it's not just good for stuff around the house. It worked great on plastic sheeting, vinyl siding, and Tyvek as well. As the Cutter runs, it also shapens itself, meaning it's always ready to go."


couldn't put it down

I spent three blissful hours this afternoon reading a lovely book that I can recommend to just about anyone. If you are a fan of Jan Karon's books about the fictional town of Mitford and Father Tim, you will especially love this book. I've read the first three books from the Mitford series - there are nine total. The books are gentle and interesting, with little beams of light from Father Tim's preaching sprinkled throughout. How nice to read books that make you smile instead of squirm.

Return to Holly Springs is the first in a new series by Karon called "The Father Tim Novels." It's about Father Tim's background, where he came from and what shaped his life. It's a combination mystery, history, and feel-good book. The writing is classic Karon - with touches of humor and a great lens on human nature.

Jan Karon's
website is worth visiting just to listen to the beautiful music she has playing in the background.

Here is a question from an interview with Jan Karon that I think is good and wise philosophy:
At the end of your life, when you look back on your writing career, how will you understand "success"? What fruits will you look for to determine if you have "succeeded" as a writer?
While antiquing along Virginia's famed Route 11, I found a sampler. It says, "Success is getting what you want. Happiness is wanting what you get." Happiness is what I look for as a first fruit of success, which, as you know, is a thorn all its own.


{ this is so pretty }

These cross stitch patterns are found on Country Cottage Needleworks website - perfect for a January stitching project.

ForestSnowfall_finished1_by Nina_2010jan10

ForestSnowfall_finished7_by Nina_2010jan10

Country Cottage Needleworks
32ct Belfast linen,
Pearl Grey
Crescent Colours (Deep Fennel, Weeping Willow, Country Lane, Little House Brown, Cocoa Bean),
Waterlielies silk by Caron (Steel) and DMC (blanc, 644, 3371)


where I've been for the past week...

...taken from Georgana's Adornit blog.

Whew. The new catalog's finished and off to press! We've been working on it for a solid week...every waking moment (and some sleeping). This is the biggest and most comprehensive catalog we've printed in a few years, and we can't wait to hand it out to all our customers at CHA. We're excited to show off lots of great stuff - both in the catalog and in our booth! We're thrilled about our new scrapbooking and home dec. collections.


Here's Georgana, just back from the printer with a press check sheet - looks good. We're also working on our CHA booth - notice the cute flowers.


Debbie's at her computer re-writing words and doing a last minute check for typos. (We always wish we had one more day - but that's how it is with any project.)


memories of Christmas - family parties

Mr. & Mrs. Santa have been visiting us at Gary's house for years and years. Here's baby Emmett sleeping in Santa's lap.

And here's Winston telling about how good he's been this year.

And then we shift gears and read and sing about the birth of baby Jesus. As Mary and Joseph, Becky and Pitt were lucky to have a real baby in their arms this year.

The whole cast - with Jennifer on the piano, not pictured and the rest of the family reading the narration and singing the Christmas carols.

Little baby Emmett was quiet and calm during the nativity play - a true Christmas miracle.
Christmas party for my extended family at my sister's house.

Grandpa took the kids on a "lion hunt" (however he called it a reindeer hunt for this season and party). This is a tradition of his that I remember from my own childhood. Pretty exciting even for the older kids like Becky.

A few of us in the story teller's seat: Gary told about some experiences in Japan, Brookelyn, Jaden, and Triston told Christmas stories, Merilee shared an Italian Christmas folktale, and Val read from Charles Dickens's A Christmas Carol. Val had participated in A Christmas Carol stage play during Nov. and Dec. (fun!) and expressed his feelings about the story.

Focusing on a game of Bingo with M&M's markers and lots of fun prizes.

Me, brother Gary and sister Merilee. Looks like we waited until Doug left to take this pic.

Mer put together a wonderful service project for us, and we all contributed to the gift boxes. The kids decorated them to make them nice to give to a special family.

Aimee and Becky focused on helping get everything wrapped.

Suzie and Winston arrived and we were all so excited to have them home for Christmas! Here Suzie hugs Bailee and Tristan.

Meanwhile I was out taking pictures and videos of Bailee and Tristan doing the dishes. These two five-year-olds love to do dishes. Notice my rubber gloves on Bailee. She's a rubber glove girl too.

It's an hour later, I'm not kidding, and Bailee was still doing dishes. She had taken off her sweater, shed the rubber gloves, and used a fourth of Merilee's Joy dish soap. It was all joy for me when she showed me the pile of washed dished and her pruny little hands.

Pitt and Derek snuggled up on the big chair...

...while Derek's and Nikki's little baby Avrie was nestled all snug in her car seat.


And now we shift to Christmas Day dinner at our house with some of Scott's family. This is Scott's sister Mary explaining a word during our favorite game, Catch Phrase.

Mike, Brookie, Suzie and Corey loving the game.

And here's Suzie teaching the younger kids how to play another fun game called Snorta. Aunt Patty looks on as her grandkids gather cards.
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