Friday, December 30, 2011

Year End Rambles

Crisp mornings and warm afternoons, Butler and I are enjoying time outdoors. Today I got a chance to try out new walking shoes. What a treat.

My thoughts have been as as rambling as the path. Butler takes as he chases after every new smell. I chase after every twist in my mind. Subjects include warm memories of the holiday fun with family. I cherish the time with my children and grandchildren It is amazing to me what paths they are on, how smart they are and how caring they are to me and each other. When counting my blessings, family is my number 1.

Another thought path is Annarella Girl. Where I'm going with my business, strategies for reaching my goals, examinations of what has worked, what hasn't and why. You know, the same old, same old. The constant revolving voice does help me edge toward decisions, just sorry my followers have to listen to the seemingly endless repititions.

Spending a lot of time on walks enjoying the fresh air. Sharing the sheer joy of being outside with exuberant Butler. Looking at the different hues of greens, browns and grays and trying to learn to love winter's palette. Part of my resolution for living a better life is to savor the small moments of beauty and joy. I'm trying to enjoy the gifts of nature, family and friends.

By the end of our short walks Butler and I are ready for coffee and breakfast. I'm eager to get into my sewing room. I'm ready to have my day unfold. Loving it!


Thursday, December 29, 2011

Winding Down, Gearing Up

My holiday is over. The last chick flew out of the nest this morning. Actually we had the gift of an extra day as his scheduled flight was cancelled yesterday. Today he took off, and as I write this is almost home.

Now I'm faced with loads of wash, mounds of used sheets and towels, lots of ironing, undecorating and a strong urge to get back to sewing. So as the Christmas mode winds down, my fingers itch to create new dresses.

After longhorn orange and sooner red (see pajama bottoms in previous post), I want to work with blues, yellows and pinks. I am inspird by gardens - flowers, butterflies and birds.  After my week at the beach, I have lots of shells  that call out to me with their soft palettes of grays, pinks and golds. Don't be surprised to see some clothes in those colors.

New designs!! The buttoned strap jumper. A mid-length skirt. Onesie with a longer skirt. These should look great in spring and summer fabrics.

My new year's creative energy soars. Next comes meetings with crative buddies to plan marketing and selling opportunities. Lots of thoughts running through my brain. Welcoming 2012.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The Wars Continue

The Sooners have been driven off to Houston, but the Longhorns continue to strategize and train for the next skirmish.

The perimeter is secured and manned by the very alert soldiers.

guns, ammo and provisions are ready

target practice by seasoned warriors

and by new recruits

Never a dull moment at the Skross house!!!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

A House Divided

War on Christmas morning in the Skross household. University of Texas vs University of Oklahoma with peaceniks Tyson and flat Allyson (more about that later.) caught in the middle.

A truce was declared for the unwrapping of the gifts carefully monitored by heavily armed Hudson.

While flat Allyson kept peace at the brunch table.

Battling sides posed for group shots as a part of the peace process. You can see that not everyone was happy with the cease fire.

Allyson was unable to make the trip to share our Christmas, so she sent Flat Allyson to take part in all the activities. Below she is getting ready to be a part of the group picture.

then sharing a moment with family at the dinner table. Although she helped with the cookie decorating, stocking stuffing and unwrapping the gifts, it wasn't quite the same. We look forard to the next holiday with real Allyson.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Leftover Day

                          Help! I am thigh high in leftovers and fighting the urge to try to eat them all.

So much good food!

Not enough time to eat it all!

Where to start? What to do? 


Friday, December 23, 2011

Christmas Wishes

As my family gathers I am filled with Christmas cheer. My wish for all of you far and near is love, peace and joy. Snowed under a flurry of wrapping paper I stop to thank everyone for being a part of my life. In a cloud of flour and sugar I take note of how lucky I am. May happiness put a shine in your holidays as it has in mine.

Merry Christmas.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Oh, Happy Day

My holidays start today with the arrival of Ty. Ah, the joy of family. Hubs and I have our Ty "To Do List" readywhich starts with the traditional grocery shopping trip to Central Market! Isn't Ty lucky!!! Imagine leaving the bustling streets of NYC only to land in the bedlam of Central Market. Such joy will be repeated tomorrow with a folow-up trip to HEB. I love him!!! His fortitude to share the shopping experience with his Dad is a much appreciated gift.

My favorite Christmas gift is the time my children and grandchildren spend with me. Let it begin!!!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Saying Goodby

This week before Christmas has found me saying goodby to a good friend, my hairdresser, Bo. She and her husband are striking out on a new life adventure. They are selling most of their wordly possessions and setting off to explore America. How exciting! I can only imagine the wonders they will see, the people they will meet, and what they will learn about themselves. While I am happy for her, I am sad for me. She has been a wise guide for me - full of good insight and advice as I have tiptoed through the changes of the last few years. I will miss our every 6 week get togethers from which I emerged coiffed inside and out.

On a sadder note my daughter's husband's family has lost a beloved uncle. Al has battled cancer for several years. He has enjoyed a good remission, but now he has succumbed. The end has gone fast without too much pain. He has been surrounded by his loving family. What a loving and gentle end. Saying goodby has its sorrow, but he left alot of good memories.

Continuing on the sad my husband's last living maternal aunt is very ill. Elizabeth has been a very constant presence in our lives. Quiet, loving and with a twinkle in her eye she has applauded our successes and shared our joys.
Aunt Elizabeth, I love you and wish you comfort in the coming days. I am a better person for having known you. Thanks.

There is not a good time to say goodby, but from sorrow arises strength.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Christmas Chaos

Blogosphere is getting quiet as Christmas approaches. Many have kids home as school is ended for the year. Some are on the road to see their adult kids and precious grandkids. And there are those of us who are into the Christmas chaos period as we try to finish up shopping, prepare the house for guests and wrap, wrap, wrap.
Sewing room is just about transformed into the wrapping room. Lots of roles of wrapping paper. Lots of bags filled with stuff waiting to be wrapped. Lots of mess.
Christmas is coming. Will I be ready? Will I get everything done that I want to? Those answers are still up in the air.

I want to thank everyone who wrote me or spoke to me about my post Funny Business. You are encouraging. Susan, I appreciated your constructive remarks. I'm thinking how I can get better at my presentation. You've given me food for thought. And for all of you who remind me that we all face challenges, I feel your hugs and support. Thanks.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Christmas Kitchen

Gray days outside. Twinkle lights inside. Seems like a good day to be in a warm kitchen. Do you like to make Christmas cookies and candies? Some of you probably finished ages ago. I might be a little late, but the baked goods will still taste good.

What are your family favorites? There are 3 must haves for us - fudge, iced sugar cookies and chocolate chip cookies. After those I like to throw in something new. This year I've found a yummy sounding recipe for a lemon snowdrop cookie. (Next to chocolate, lemon is my favorite flavor!) And a recipe for a soft ginger cookie. One of my grandsons loves gingerbread, so these look good. And on the maybe list - a chocolate sandwich cookie and a cherry shortbread. Can you see the 10 pounds being gained?

We are also planning the holiday menus. Traditionally Christmas Eve is cheese fondue, viande seche and all those candies and cookies for dessert. Easy meal with little preparation. Fondue allows for a leisurely conversation and enjoyment of being a family together. A great way to unwind, catch up and breathe.

Christmas Day there will be a brunch - egg and sausage casserole is the centerpiece. I'm looking at a make-ahead french toast casserole.. Anybody have any suggestions or recipes to share? Then dinner will be beef tenderloin, twice baked potaotes, creamed spinach, and a corn casserole. Desserts will be pies and leftover cookies. We're still deciding about which pies. My daughter-in-law, A, won't be here to bake the apple pie, her specialty, but a friend has talked me through the "perfect" apple pie. (One of those beach conversations from last week.) I'm going to try it since one of my granddaughters LOVES apple pie. Also have found what looks like a very tasty recipe for a peanut butter pie. When I mention the possibility smiles break out. I'll let you all know how it goes.

So that's some of what is going on in my kitchen. It isn't Christmas at my house without the cooking and baking. I'm exceptionally lucky because my family considers cooking and cleaning up a group activity. Think of it as "The Big Chill" without the choreographed dance moves. Good times. And we only have to remove all sharp objects a couple of times.

Tell me about your holiday kitchen.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Funny Business

This craft business is odd, unpredictable and funny - in a weird way, not ha ha. The second half of 2011 has not been very profitable for Annarella Girl or Mama Ds. Sales have been flat. Shows were time consuming and not much fun. We're happy to see the end of the year.

I have plans for next year, but already I'm stumbling. The first show I applied for has just rejected me. Sad. I just can't seem to break into the next level of shows, the ones with a well qualified jury and a good reputation for high quality, handmade goods. I'm left listening to my insecure voices - "you're not good enough; you're not original enough; you're not forward thinking enough." After 3 years of designing and sewing the Annarella Girl line I thought I would be further along on a trajectory toward success. It all leaves me confused and frustrated. Unsure and losing the enthusiasm to figure out how to move forward.

I need something good to happen. I'm getting tired of slogging through the morass of just breaking even. If it weren't for the thrill I get from choosing fabrics, creating new designs and sewing it all together, I would give up without the constant struggle and whining. But the simple truth is I LOVE what I'm doing. When I consider quitting - the yes, no of it - always the no wins.(Maybe that's why the life lesson advice of yesterday meant so much to me.) Deep inside my heart tells me to continue, it's not time to stop. So 2012 is a big year for me. I have a list of shows I want to do. (Keep your fingers crossed for the ones that are juried.) I'm hoping to create a group of crafters who can share resources, advice, a website and some shows to try and grow our businesses. I want to push a bit and see if I can have some success.

Wish me luck. I need to find some fun in the business end of crafting. Right now it is not funny business. Bring it on 2012.
(In a whisper... if I should quit, tell me. Put me out of my misery.) Okay I'm off to find a cheese to go with this whine. 

Friday, December 16, 2011

Life Lessons from the Beach

I'm back. What a relaxing time I had. Lots of it spent on the beach - reading, dipping a toe in the waves, watching the sun dance across the water, and talking. I'll probably boring you with some of the observations, both mine and others, for the next few days.

Love this advice shared by a friend from her brother. When you are trying to make a decision but can't, DON'T. Put simply if you sometimes think yes and sometimes think no, go with the no. You're just not ready yet to say yes. A yes is usually clear and convincing. If you're vacillating, it's for a reason. Step back from the yes. Go with the no.

I think I like this advice. It's valuable for kids when they are weighing their options. And looking back on occasions when I was flip flopping between yes and no, when I followed this system the results were good. So I'm packing my life tool bag with a flipping yes and NO. I think it will cut down on future mistakes.

Good to be back.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Traveling with Friends

I'm taking some time off, not only from the blog, but also from my normal life. sounds drastic, but it's not. For about 2 weeks I'll be basking in the warmth of friendship on a girls trip. A little rest and relaxation before the hectic holidays.

This is a true break - no sewing machine, no computer, no holiday preparations - just time by the pool, hot tub and beach. Long, lazy conversations. A few glasses of wine. Reading, reading, reading. Watching movies. (This is not a "chick flick" group. There will be hours of action films.)  Lots of laughter as we remember old times and make new memories. We're older, maybe wiser, but still giggling and giddy as we enjoy life.

So if I get a chance I might check in with a short post, but don't be suprised if I don't surface before mid month. I plan to be busy burrowing my toes in the sand or languidly trailing my fingers in the pool.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Rain Is Here to Stay

Third rainy day in a row. Beside cleaning up muddy paw prints it is all good. Husband has gumbo simmering on the stove. I'm working on Christmas gifts. We are all snug and warm inside. Happy Sunday.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Rain Drops Keep Falling

After months of no rain, dead bushes, rising dust we've been getting bits of rain for the last month. All of us still hold our breath and wish for a good soaking rain. You know the kind that makes each blade of grass wiggle its toes in ecstasy. But the day before the Christmas Stroll its a little harder to be happy for a rainy weekend.

The Stroll has never been cancelled or postponed to my knowledge, so I assume it will continue in a soggy fashion. But what a disappointment for all - for the kids who look forward to meeting Santa, playing games and seeing the parade; for the organizers who have worked so hard to book the entertainment, create Santa's workshop, plan the parade and assemble all the wonderful vendors.

Let's pull on our mucklucks and anotaks, and go forth to enjoy this tradition of downtown Georgetown. Certainly a few rain drops won't stop the joy. Come down and enjoy the smiling faces of the kids - of all ages. Dodge the rain by stopping in to see all the shops and restaurants. Stroll the arts and crafts section. See you there!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Joy to the World

Small joys

Sitting in the sun at the bark park watching a happy dog chase the squirrels. The payoff for the miserably hot summer is to be able to enjoy the outdoors in late November and December.

Each finished Annarella Girl outfit makes me smile. I love mixing the colorful patterned fabrics. I'm constantly tweaking the designs to make the clothes more comfortable and wearable. Meeting and working with my clients is a kick.

Decorating for the holidays. In truth I don't love the work but I love the result. Twinkle lights make me smile and lift my spirits.

Thinking about what cookies and candy to make for the family. Always I make fudge, the old fashioned kind. Plus I make sugar cookies. (Love that grandkids are old enough to do most of the icing.) Then I always try something new.There is great joy in reading cookbooks for new recipes.

I feel like I keep posting about the same things, but this is what is on my mind during this season. I kow women who don't feel joyful now, but instead dread all the work of the holidays. I choose to concentrate on the happy. Over the years I've learned to give myself permission to have imperfect holidays when it comes to decorating, shopping, wrapping, baking if it is driving me crazy. The most important part is the gathering of family and friends. If all the details get finished, great. If they don't, ahh well, we still have the most important part - joy of each other.

Be kind to one another.