Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas!!!!

Last minute scroogetta finally installed this antique storm door yesterday after waiting several months for the door fairies to spontaneously install it. Also got a couple of outrageous estimates. So yesterday I got out my electric saw, tape measure, and electric drill and just did it myself. The final inspiration? The window "wreath" that From The Heart was selling at The Pink Cottage. I'd been eyeballing it for a while and decided it had to be mine. I can "dress" it for different seasons but look how fab it is now. I wanted it to be on the storm door so that was that. An hour later it was all together and we were finally, at the last minute, ready for Christmas. I did wear myself out so yesterday between carpentry and wrapping that I couldn't wake from my nap at 7:00 in time for church. Matt and Paul went like good boys but we watched The Nativity Story on Demand when they returned and I felt better. I hope all is well, glittery, and filled with love for you and your families. From our home to yours with love.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

It's a girl!!!!!

Last weekend my sister finalized the paperwork for she and I to "adopt" little Lobsang Dolma through Tibetan Living Communities . Isn't she precious? Look at that sweet face and those sweet, innocent hands folded. She's five years old. I just want to go and give her big hugs. Actually, I wanted to go get her and bring her home but my sister explained to me that Lobsang lives in one of the very last truly peaceful Buddhist communities left in the world. I was trying to justify bringing her here thinking it shouldn't take that long for her to adjust to living in the Baltimore Washington area 'cause the pace is so Zen-like. Then I looked at her face again and couldn't even begin to consider doing that to here. But if we ever move to Nebraska...
Here is the story of our adopting Lobsang as written by my sister:
I recently read the book Kundun, the biography of the Dalai Lama and his four brothers and two sisters, all of whom have been engaged in the movement for Tibetan independence since the Chinese occupation of Tibet began in 1959. The hope I saw for the Tibetans—a people whose culture is on the verge of extinction--is in the children, living in exile but being raised in the traditional Tibetan way. How, I wondered, could I support that in happening? Then, quite miraculously, the Corvallis Gazette-Times ran a story ("Tibetan Store Opens for the Holidays") about a store in downtown Corvallis whose purpose is to raise money for a non-profit called Tibetan Living Communities (TLC). Among other things, TLC funds projects at the Manjushree Vidyapith Orphanage in Northeast India.
TLC is one of those wonderful examples of what a small group of dedicated and passionate people can do. Nancy Fireman of Napa, CA, is the founder along with two Tibetan monks. Her sister, Sylvia Fireman of Sweet Home, and Sylvia’s daughters Shauna Gray and Lisa Rennie of Eugene volunteered their time to staff the store for the month it was open. They had a beautiful inventory of handmade paper and journals, jewelry and scarves, prayer flags, CD's of Tibetan chants and music.
On one wall of the store they had photos of and information about children at the orphanage who needed sponsors to pay for their food, clothing, and schooling. The first time I looked at the photos there was a sweet little 7-year-old boy who caught my eye, but then I spotted Lobsang Dolma, and BAM!, I fell in love. Five of us in the family decided to go in together on the sponsorship, which makes it quite affordable, $72 a year from each of us. I love the personal connection, i.e. I'm emailing with the founder of TLC and she answers all my questions plus more. We are encouraged to write to the child we sponsor and send photos of our family, and twice a year we'll get their report cards and responses from them, translated into English by Lama Thupten, the founder and director of the orphanage.
The more I learn about the orphanage the more hope I have for the cultural and spiritual survival of the Tibetan people, through the support and education of the younger generation. And seeing what the Fireman family has created gives me hope for us humans! On the roof of the dormitory are solar panels, installation funded by TLC. Before the solar hot water system was installed, none of the children had ever had the luxury of a hot shower! Lama Thupten Phuntsok, after receiving a Ph.D. in Buddhist Philosophy from Gyumed Monastic University, taught at an Indian government school before founding the orphanage in 1998. All the children who live there are Tibetan Buddhists. They are provided a modern education, but paramount importance is given to the growth of compassion and a kind heart.Presently there are 108 orphans, including 10 physically disabled children, taught by a staff of eight. Part of the orphanage's mission is to provide for children with disabilities who would otherwise not receive an education in their remote region of India. Lama Thupten hopes to expand the facilities and staff over the next few years so as to accommodate at least 200 children. If you are interested, they have two wonderful websites with sooooo many photos: TibetanLivingCommunities.org and ManjushreeOrphanage.org.
As my sister and I were talking this morning about Lobsang Dolma, I realized that adding her to our lives has already brought us joy. There was already so much for us to be grateful for, and now there's more. Happy holidays, and a poem below, titled Pray For Peace, by Ellen Bass, is my holiday gift to you. Thanks for reading this, and for being part of our lives, Valori

It's beginning to look a lot like Scroogetta has left...

I was completely uninterested in decorating for Christmas this year. Last year the guys "let" me decorate the tree any way I wanted to in exchange for them getting to do it this year. They did not forget. I work hard all year getting my house to look just like I like it so I don't look forward to mixing it up.THEN I went to work for Deb at Bayberry Cove. Well I got over not decorating fast. I realized after starting to buy and be surrounded by all the wonderful decorations that I have loved for so long and collected little by little over the years that one of the reasons I don't look forward to Christmas decorating was that the majority of our decorations were ones that my mom had tossed off to me about 15 years ago. The same crap I never did like. I don't know why I'd never noticed it before, I guess it's because I wasn't that into it in the first place.
Above is the big, soft, fab snowman that Deb gave each of Beth and I for Christmas. Hanging around Snowman's neck is the wonderful bear ornament that Amy gave me. Below them is an antique wooden snowman vignette from Paul's family heirlooms.
This is one of my acquisitions from work. I had seen it in a magazine somewhere but didn't realize how big it is, it's about 5 X 7 and soooooooooooooooo great and fun.
Matt but not Chloe had fun putting on reindeer ears.
I finally finished my project from Pam Garrison's class from Silver Bella and it got it's own home too.
Little vignette starting with the sugary church and antique angels.
The piece from Charlotte Lyons' class I also finally finished.
I've heard enough about the big red balls hanging from the over the sink light fixture but, come on, big red balls with dots?
Still haven't been able to get a good picture of this sweetie guy under the glass cloche but you get the idea, right?

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Mini Baby Shower for Ma Powers and Company Christmas Party!!!

She's like Mary Poppins. When Amy Powers comes around you just know something special is going to happen. Well, knowing that Ma Powers was coming to "the office" on Thursday, on my way home Wednesday night I decided that we'd turn the visit into a mini-baby shower for her. I already had what I wanted to give her, all I had to do was whip up some cup cakes at midnight. I had Martha cup cake papers and oatmeal/chocolate chip cookie dough, so voila, I made cookie cup cakes. I was so ready EXCEPT I didn't check my emails and so didn't know that Deb had decided we'd use the occasion to have a "company Christmas party". We were all over the place with fun! Amy shows in her famous pink coat with one of Beth's (bethsbagz.com) corsages.
The kick-off of the mini-shower (when I think of that term, it makes me think of that pic of her in the bubble bath in Carmel-that was a maxi-shower!!!!).
Beth and Amy petting and studying the little assemblage I made for the nursery.
Have you ever seen anyone so photogenic? Deb's nine-year-old son, Matt, chose this gift for Amy himself...Huck Finn...how perfect?!
Then we step into the company Christmas party mode (where I was completely unprepared in the giving department). Amy starts it off with a fab apron from Deb.
Here's the pincushion Beth made for me...OMG, right? Wow.
Deb and the pincushion that Beth made for her. That's Sassy on top, just like Deb's own furry cat.
Giant, soft, sweet, wonderful snowman that Deb gave to me and Beth and the little bear ornament and ultra-fab packaging from Amy. Coming soon...see the two together in my home decor.
Deb's gift vignette, the pincushion and one of Amy's amazing glittery houses and scenes.
Following a great lunch at Chevy's it was back to reality but with full bellies and hearts so warm we could heat all of Falls Church from there.

News from across the pond

My oldest son, Lucas, left on his 24th birthday, December 14th, to fly to Europe for the first time. His girlfriend, Kristen, is studying a semester in England so he's there to spend a month which will, of course, include Christmas and New Year's. He flew into London where he met up with Kristen then they flew to Amsterdam where these photos were taken. Lucas reports that they spent three full days walking the city so they could see as much as possible from street views. According to his list they saw everything a body should see and more in the way of sites and history. He definitely has the Teer family travel instinct. Lucas said they are back in England now, flew back into John Lennon Airport which he thought was very cool...me too. I'll share as he does...

And the prizes go to...

Well, here is my very enthusiastic assistant picking from the hat of names this morning. Marcie from The Pink Cabbage was picked for the Winter Wish figure and Kari from ArtsyMama won the bird on the box both by Nicol Sayre. Congratulations and thanks to all who participated (I can hear what you're thinking...). There was some very nice sucking up but, as you can see, it doesn't effect fate but is appreciated by those in power. Another way to get these items is to go to www.bayberrycove.com. I personally witnessed the new spring things that came in yesterday from Lori Mitchell and Jennifer Murphy, we were swallowing tongues all over the place!

Monday, December 17, 2007

Today's news...Scientists discover traces of what is suspected as heart, soul, sanity in Baltimore judicial system!!!!!

Or was it just media, watch-dog group attention? All I can say is thank the good Lord for the NAACP. I know there are folks who criticize some for being media hounds or knee-jerk reactions but I believe that extreme conditions call for extreme response. This is absolutely good news but, not liking to be the pessimist, what about all the others we don't know about and why will the judge go on without justification?

How do you send a soldier off to war? No, really?

Cedric and his family have lived two doors down from us for almost two years. Cedric's from Georgia, Astrid is from Texas. Their children say ma'am and sir. Cedric and I got to be pretty good friends over the summer. Paul played golf with him and another neighbor several times a month. Cedric's son, Alec, is Matt's best friend. They brought together and taught our neighborhood how to be a neighborhood in a way that no one else could do. Our neighborhood has been completely transformed by their unabashed openness and friendliness. We knew from the beginning that Cedric was special ops and had been to Iraq a few times and that he was bound to go again. So for the last couple of months he's been preparing us that he was going again. I've known people who have been to war and even battle but I've never known anyone when they went off to war. I'm not making this about me but I had no idea what to say, how to act. We could tell that he was mentally transforming into a place where he needed to be to do his job but we couldn't make the transition with him. I overheard other neighbors saying goofy things to him, obviously feeling like me; not at all comfortable and unprepared to say something appropriate. You sure as heck can't say what you're thinking, "Don't get killed, come home with all the same parts, your children need you, etc.". Luckily I had given him a big hug prematurely because he didn't come around and say goodbye the day before he left as he said he would. I can understand why, it was for the best. Now all we can do is pray and keep up with what the family hears from him each day. Seriously, though, should this occur again, heaven forbid, anyone know what's appropriate and not goofy?

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Doojies' Giant Holiday Giveaway Extravaganza!!!!

Well working for Deb at http://www.bayberrycove.com/ has taken the Grinch right outta me! I don't usually get into decorating for Christmas. I only do it for the 10 year old. And I've been using the same &*^%$ decorations for many years. All the poo poo left over that my mom didn't want anymore. Then when we first moved here Paul was real thrilled with the dough ornaments at the mall so he's gotten several every year plus his dad buys, every year, those U.S. Mint coins that come out decorated in brass snowflakes. So we have this great combo of dough and (as Deb said the other day) dough. The decorating Nazi doesn't cotton to it much. Last year I insisted that I alone would decorate the tree so I made cool clock face ornaments and used all the great antique ornaments from Paul's family...it looked great. But until a couple of weeks ago I had forgotten what deal I had made to get that privilege, yep, they get to do the tree this year. And here it is the 11th and still no tree. Soooooooooooooo, I've been working as fast as I can to get my new wonderful Bayberry Cove and my Silver Bella project goodies out and hopefully so many that they will distract from the tree. Soooooooooooo, Deb's generosity (I can't divulge company secrets) has been contagious 'cause I decided to have a giveaway. And not just one but TWO. Here's item number one, above, the Winter Wish. At first I was going to take bets on whether or not I'd make it home from this job with ANY money in my pockets but I knew that was just too easy. So I decided that all you have to do is leave a comment on this blog before December 20th and I'll put all the names in a hat and have an unbiased party choose. If you do not swallow your tongue and/or have smoke blowin' all the way up your skirt then please leave your entry for someone else who'd give their left nut for one of these.
Here's number two. I don't usually do seasonal decorating, if I like something I put it out all year. In fact I didn't realize that the Winter Wish said Winter Wish until after I got it home and unwrapped it. I just saw that it was pink and sparkly just like the little box chick above.
And while I have you here, below is a little sneak peak at just two of my many new items I've listed on Etsy, check it out at http://www.etsy.com/shop.php?user_id=26667 . Especially you Bellas who were so disappointed when I sold out of my collage necklaces before you had the chance to purchase...new ones here!
I'll be back next week. I had the day off today 'cause I had to take Matt to the doctor with a sinus infection, then fill the RX, then by the time I got to Falls Church I'da had to turn around and come back to I'm back at it tomorrow. Buenos suerte!

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Since then...

I got so much inspiration and so many ideas after Silver Bella that I came home and after a few days of non-stop sleep went into the studio and started making. Don't you love the pink Christmas tree I picked up in Omaha? Then I covered it with my anytime clock sachet ornaments.
Christmas collages in photo cabinets with sparkles.
Fab bird meets beautiful cage and lives happily ever after.
Mo ornaments waiting by the tassel that ate Milwaukee.
And mo assemblages and collages out tha wazoo! All stocked and ready for holiday shopping galore!

Ancestry visit. Part Two, Mom's Dad's Side.

After leaving Lincoln we headed south to big ol' Cook, Nebraska. Population 300 and dropping daily. It was sad, it's a dying little town. So unlike Stromsburg, Cook is like a ghost town. It was Memorial Day so all three businesses were closed except the grocery/cafe. The guys were hanging out at the hardware store, though, so we got a lot of info from them. And Mom's cousin, Richard had given Mom a lady's name and number and we went to her house but she couldn't remember much at 94. She could tell us though where Uncle Ralph and Aunt Jennie's (my grandfather's sister) house was.
Here's a photo of Mom and Ray Arnold in front of her Uncle Ralph's drug store when Mom was 4 and RA was 5.
And today in the same spot. Ray Arnold had taken his wife to the doctor in Lincoln that day but the owner of the hardware store stood in for him the day we were there.
This is the bank now but was where Uncle Ralph's drug store was. The only decent building in town and it's the BANK. I thought that was interesting. I guess the farmers in the nearby area must still be making some money 'cause didn't look like anyone in town had an extra buck to chuck in the bank.
Below is the house that was Uncle Ralph and Aunt Jennie's. It's due to be torn down soon, it's in pretty bad shape.
It took us about an hour to find the farm only about 5 miles outside of town. We got some misinformation from hardware guy and Cousin Richard didn't have the exact directions on him from the cell phone calls we were making to him every few minutes in South Carolina. Mom had never seen Fargo so she didn't quite get why I would not make any further than two turns so I would know where the main road was. Not that there are any scary folks there, they are all nice and decent, I could just picture us getting lost and not being found until spring thaw. The turn of luck was when I caught the tiniest glimpse of what looked like the tops of tombstones. Richard had said there was a cemetery across from the family farm. So we went to the cemetery and found...well I'll get to that in a minute. But we did find the farm, just as described, the house was gone but the original barns are still there. Another amazing feeling, being where my grandfather had been born, raised, and where he rode his horse back and forth to school from.
We found the family plot and this was the oldest headstone we could read easily.
We have what's written on this one below but it is, as you can tell, very old and beautiful.
I took the photo of the barn and sign below as we were leaving town. I thought it was funny especially considering that the poor town is barely there and dying more each day. It reads, "Best Small Town In America". Yikes.
Here are the "souvenirs" I collected from the family farm. It's still a working farm with lots of cows but there were a few things laying around OUTSIDE the fence that didn't look like they would be used any time soon and had been there for a while.
I popped the tractor seat onto a stool we already had.
This wreath of barbed wire needs to be put up somewhere special but it hasn't told me where yet. If I ever get that storm door installed I'd like to put the barbed wire on the door. We'll see, I'm just glad to have it.
So the drive home was really long because we only had driving to look forward to and I missed Paul and Matt so badly that it seemed to take forever. Wow, what an adventure it was!