Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Born Too Soon (A Little Known Fact About The Easily Influenced Stitcher)

I usually say that I was born too late because I've always been kind of an old soul, but now something has occurred that makes me realize that, in this instance, I have been born too soon.

First of all, let it be known that I don't have much of an interest in sports.  I've always been bad at things like basketball & softball. Look up the word "uncoordinated" in the dictionary & you will find my picture.  I can't even dance!  But one "sporty" thing I really had a talent for was shooting a rifle.  A 22 to be exact.  When I was growing up my parents had a cabin in Marienville, Pennsylvania where we would go every weekend during the summers.  We had a nice piece of ground & to keep me occupied & out of their hair my dad set up a shooting range for me.  I used to shoot a bow & arrow (not good at that) & a 22.  I was extremely good with that 22 shooting at targets & cans.  The kids in neighboring camps even called me Annie Oakley!

I continued to enjoy shooting when I entered high school & jumped at the chance to try out for the school's rifle team when I found out there was one!  I was the only girl who tried out.  Unfortunately I missed the necessary score that would put me on the team by one point.  One point!  Argh!  That's what I was told by the team leader anyway. I suppose back then it could have been a "we don't want girls on our rifle team" kind of thing but I don't think so because everyone seemed pretty excited to see me there.

I don't remember ever shooting again after that.  I didn't go with my parents to the cabin anymore & didn't know anything like shooting clubs or shooting ranges existed. Over the years my love of shooting has never left me.  Sometimes when we are driving somewhere I will see a sign for a rifle range & think how nice it would be to go there.  Then we get home & I sit in my recliner & stitch something or I go take a nap.    

Just a few minutes ago I was visiting a new-to-me blog & the writer of the blog had a feed running for the Olympics & what did I happen to see when I entered this blog?  A promo for womens shooting!  There's a 3-position rifle shooting category!  Be still my heart!  If I had known such a thing existed when I was growing up (not that it existed back then ... it looks like it's a relatively new category just in the past 10 years or so) believe me, I would've been in training for that!  I was so excited seeing this ad that I immediately told John about it & how I would've definitely set my sights on being on the team "if only."  His response was "I don't think there's any age limit in the Olympics."  I said "I can see my face on a cereal box now."  It's fun to think about but of course my eyes aren't what they used to be & I haven't shot a rifle since high school.  It was nice to have a few memories come flooding back to me this morning though, & to fantasize ... if only for a brief moment ... about what might have been   : )


Monday, July 30, 2012

An RAK for me!!!

Happy, happy mail day!!!  John went to the PO & came back saying "You have a parcel from the UK."  I didn't remember ordering anything from the UK.  When I opened the parcel I discovered it was a wonderful RAK from June!  Just look at how pretty everything was packaged   : )

Take a closer look!  That measuring tape is actually TAPE!  How cute is that!  And here is what was inside of all those lovely packages   : )
A card with very sweet words written inside, a felt cutout bluebird, a package of little cards with a tea theme, a pack of pocket tissues with a very pretty butterfly design on them, & some vanilla & pecan cookie Luxury Fragrance Beads.  I wish all of you who are reading this could get a whiff of them over your computer screens because you can't imagine how delicious the fragrance is!  I want to put this bag on a chain & wear it around my neck so I can smell this fragrance anytime & anywhere   : )   Last, but not least, June made me a beautiful stitching which I absolutely love!  Thank you my dear friend!   

Sunday, July 29, 2012

I Ain't Gonna Do These Crafts No More

I have been thinking off & on for quite a while (a year or more) about certain crafts I've done in the past that I really don't do anymore & which I'm pretty sure I'm never going to want to do again.  It's not because I don't appreciate them or enjoy the finished products ... it's just that I realized a long time ago that I can't do everything so I should really concentrate on doing the things I delight in (like cross stitch) & forget about taking up my precious time doing one thing when I'd really be happier doing something else.  Also, the supplies required for some of these crafts are taking up a lot of space in my home & I've been on a pursuit to get rid of clutter as of late.  It all boils down to a win-win situation.  My house will be less cluttered & I will be spending my precious time doing the things I love.  

My friend Marly can actually be credited with inadvertently encouraging me to start this ball rolling.  In a blog post last week (which you can read here) she revealed her decision to give up painting.  Her painting talent is awe-inspiring & knowing how I've been mulling things over I'm sure it was a difficult decision for her to make.  However, she said "Making a decision feels good, making more will feel great, & I plan to continue."  So here I am with the following declarations:

1.  I am going to give up painting.  I enjoyed doing this for a number of years, participating in many craft fairs with a friend of mine, but I know I'm never going to do this again.  All my paints, patterns, & the wood already cut & ready to paint must go. This includes my shop equipment (a brand new scroll saw still in the box since we moved here) & supplies for stenciling signs.    

2.  I am going to give up making candles & tarts.  No surprise here ... I posted a while back that I was offering all my candle/tart making supplies for sale or trade.  (These are still available by the way.)

3.  I am going to give up braiding wool rugs. I have 4 huge Rubbermaid bins of 2-1/2" wide wool strips as well as one full of wool yardage which will be available to take up residence in a new home or two   : )

4.  Making primitive dolls, ornaments, & other things with cloth.  I have a hundred or more patterns that I've purchased the past couple years but I don't really enjoy making these things so off they will go. 

5.  Punchneedle is already history but it's "hasta la vista" to rug hooking as well.  

6.  I really don't see myself quilting again.  I do have quite a few unfinished projects which I will hold on to but other than those UFOs I will be parting with a lot of fabrics & all my books.  

I can already imagine the emptiness left in their wake as these things exit my home!  The trick now will be to list them someplace for sale, trade them, or just take them to the landfill (bad donation experiences in the past).  

Marly is right ... making a decision feels good   : )

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Blogger Troubles Anyone?

I've been having trouble trying to delete some blogs for a while now but for the past 3 days I've been unable to add new ones.  I am not a follower of very many (around 120 I think) so it's not like I've exceeded my limit or anything.  Any ideas?

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Good Swaps, Bad Swaps

Swaps.  Most of us have participated in them.  Sometimes they are good, sometimes they are bad.  I haven't received a really bad swap package ...

... one that makes you wonder if your partner bothered to read your likes/dislikes list at all

 ... one where your partner digs through a bag of things she doesn't want anymore (a bag of coasters she was given back in 1978 for example) & uses the swap as an excuse to pass them on to you even though you never said anything about liking or wanting coasters

 ... one where your partner is supposed to make something for you & she makes it "just to get it done" without any thought of even seam allowances, grain of fabric, hiding threads, correct sizing, cleanliness, etc

... since last December I think it was, unless you count the swap package I was supposed to receive from someone in January but never did (unless you count all the excuses as to why it was late & then all the promises about when it would be sent).

Over the past 20 years or so I have participated in innumerable swaps & have hostessed many myself.  They are always fun if everyone follows the rules & your partner gives a care about what kind of things she sends you ... but if people don't play by the rules & if your partner couldn't care less what she sends you (assuming she sends anything at all) then it can be a sad experience.

I don't want to blow my own horn but I'm a wonderful swap partner.  My husband can't understand why I take such delight in putting a swap package together for someone I have never met ... sometimes for someone I have never had any interaction with at all.  I must admit that the bad swapping experiences have often made me think twice about ever swapping again but thankfully those experiences, although quite horrible at times, are not the norm of all swap experiences.

I've received some really great swap packages this year (with the exception of the one that was never sent to me of course). Without fail my swap partners have paid attention to my likes/dislikes list & they have gone out of their way to send me wonderful things!  I received a swap package earlier this week & once again I am absolutely floored at the contents inside.  This package came from my partner in the Tea Shop Swap on Ravelry.  I posted a photo the other day of the cross stitch cupboard tuck I made (Would You Like A Cup Of Tea?) to include with a few other things in her package. When I opened the package she sent to me I was overwhelmed!  She sent a lovely tea towel with a buffalo design woven into it (she lives near Buffalo, NY), a tin of green tea (yum!), a tea bag patterned tissue holder, a tea bag container filled with 6 tea bags which I can take along in my purse wherever I go, a bag of knitting stitch markers decorated with little silver teapots (they are the cutest things!), a knitted scarf kit, & she knitted a pair of lacy fingerless gloves for me "because every lady needs lacy gloves when enjoying a cup of tea!" When the shop where she purchased the knitting kit heard that she was buying it for someone in a swap, they gave her a 6" ruler to send along with it   : )

Thank you again Ann Marie!  I love everything   : )

I have one more swap package to mail to someone & then I can sit back & relax for a while.  Swapping can be fun but it can also take your time away from other things.  I need this little break   : ) 

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

God, Give Me Patience!

When I was but a youngster receiving my education at the local catholic school, one of the nuns (can't remember which one) had a way of responding when one or more of us kids exasperated her.  She would stop whatever she was doing, close her eyes, & mutter "God, give me patience!"  After dealing with my insurance companies, particularly during the last 2 years, I feel that sister's pain to the nth degree.

I just want to share with you my struggles with one of my insurance companies in particular.  Yes, I have more than one.  I have three.  The third is a government entity. You would think that explanation is all you need to know ... that you totally understand what I've been dealing with ... but believe me, you have NO idea.

The way this government connected insurance company is supposed to work is this.  I submit a claim to my primary insurance company for money I've paid to a doctor or pharmacy out of pocket.  They either reimburse me a portion of that claim or they deny it.  My next step is to submit the claim to my secondary insurance company.  They likewise either reimburse me a portion of the claim or they deny it.  The final step is to submit the claim to my third insurance company.  I was informed by them that if a claim is not reimbursed in full or is denied by the first two insurance companies, they will reimburse me whatever remains be it a partial or total amount.

Things were going along smoothly with this government entity until about a year ago. Suddenly claims were taking longer to process, & then when I would finally receive a response from them they would oftentimes deny the claims for reasons such as these:

1.  The claim is missing necessary information. It is here that I wonder what they're referring to because the information they are saying is missing is right there, clear as day, on the paperwork.

2.  The codes are incorrect.  Upon checking with the doctor's office or the pharmacy, I am assured the codes are correct.

3.  I should have submitted the claim to my primary & secondary insurance companies first.  The Explanation of Benefits from both the primary & secondary insurance companies showing what they paid or did not pay are always included in the paperwork & are noted as attachments in my cover letter.

They come up with other reasons as well but I think these three probably give you an idea of what I've been up against.  However, even I was surprised by what happened in May.

Prior to January of this year I had been getting reimbursed in full for a very expensive medication I literally need in order to have any quality of life whatsoever. Insurance company #1 does not handle this particular type of claim.  Insurance company #2 does but they say the medication is not necessary even though the doctor & the hospital tests say it is.  I therefore have to pay for it out of pocket & then submit it for reimbursement to the government entity, insurance company #3. However, only 50% of my January claim was paid to me with the explanation that insurance company #2 paid the other half. They of course did not.  I called & spoke with a representative who agreed that a mistake had been made & he would reprocess the claim.  I would receive the remaining 50% owed to me in 4 weeks.  That amount of time passed & I had not received anything so I called again.  This second representative indicated there was nothing in the computer to indicate I had ever called before.  He agreed that a mistake had been made ... I should have received 100% reimbursement ... & he would reprocess the claim.  He said I would receive something in 4 weeks.  Once again that amount of time passed & I had not received anything so I decided this time to explain the problem in a certified letter.

On April 4 I received a response from Theresa L. telling me she reviewed my file & my request for reprocessing the claim in order to reimburse me the remaining 50% was denied because I did not secure preauthorization from insurance company #2.  (I did so secure that.  I submitted it with my claims each & every time I sent one in.) Theresa L. then went on to say that it looked to her like I probably shouldn't have been paid the first 50% either.  I then chose to file a formal Notice of Disagreement & did so on April 17.

On May 22 I received a letter from Tim B. This letter sadly showed the type of people ... government employees ... who process claims. I will share with you below the body of this letter.  If you have any pride in the written language you may want to take a Xanax or two before you read it.  I definitely had to take one after I received it.  I have placed explanations in brackets where I do not want to include personal information or where I need to explain something further. The spelling & sentence structure of this paragraph is exactly as it appears in the letter.

Dear [my full name here],

In regards to your request.  Your claim 1/4/12.  After review of this issue [company name misspelled] paid the claim in error. This is why; you have to follow the rules & policies of your primary Ins.  In the letter from [primary insurance company] date 4/22/10 it is showing that the prior authorization request for the coverage of [name of medication] was denied due to the results of the [name of hospital test] did not match the policies.  There for we should have not paid the first claim.  There is an avenue that can be taken, need to call your other Ins & ask for an appeal for this claim if & when they do so return the claim with the approval & we will reprocess the claim.
NOTE:  I had tried to obtain preauthorization from insurance company #2 two years ago but it was denied.  As stated above, insurance company #2 determined that I don't need this medication even though my doctor & the hospital tests prove otherwise.

Two weeks after receiving the May 22nd letter I received a Notice of Indebtedness informing me I owed the previously paid 50% of the claim I had been reimbursed in January due to lack of obtaining preauthorization from insurance company #2.  

ANOTHER NOTE:  Since the hellishness of this January claim I have been receiving 100% reimbursement for all other claims for this medication, no questions asked.  

Does this make sense to anyone?  

Yesterday I received two more responses regarding separate claims submitted to this insurance company for reimbursement.  One reimbursement is for two medications although the claim was for six.  What is happening with the other four?  This was a resubmission because all six claims were initially denied due to missing codes.  The codes were clearly there.  Upon resubmission I highlighted them & sent a cover letter pointing them out ... but guess what.  The codes they listed for the two reimbursements they paid are generic codes. ?????  The other response I received is denying me payment for something I didn't even submit to them! 

Perhaps it would be a good idea for the government to issue t-shirts to their insurance entity employees to wear while at work with the following words emblazoned on the fronts.

Monday, July 23, 2012

IHSW Report & Primitive Decorating Thoughts

Good Monday morning!  The start of a new week ... the end of another IHSW.

As I mentioned in my post yesterday, I did not get to do as much stitching as I had planned this weekend.  I did finish the second Silver Bells by Country Rustic Primitives.  It looks pretty much like the first one I stitched although I didn't need to fudge the B this time so I'll just share the photo of the first one again   : )

I have so many of these Country Rustic Primitive designs (& a few Stacy Nash & Pineberry Lane) that I want to do for Christmas.  Since I'm stitching 4 of each design & I haven't really been putting my all into this project as of late I'm starting to feel like I'm sliding faster & faster down "the other side" of the hill toward the bottom. Christmas is only 5 months away!  I don't even want to think about how I'm going to need to take all these stitchings & actually finish them into something!  Yikes!

I'm still loving my fridge although I'm not yet satisfied with the way I've organized the shelves in there.  Do you have this problem? You do if you have OCD.  Whenever I move into a new place I always have a difficult time trying to determine how to set everything up ... especially how to organize my kitchen cabinets & drawers.  It's quite anxiety provoking.  I haven't redecorated the top of the fridge yet.  I suppose I should do that so I can get all this prim stuff that was up there off the floor, the table, & the one side of the counter but (all you prim lovers brace yourselves now) I am considering some major primitive downsizing.    

Those of you who are heavily into the primitive look may want to not read this blog post any further today.  If you do decide to read on you might want to have a cup of chamomile tea, take some deep breaths, &/or ingest some sort of calming medication first.  

I have been having a crisis of sorts regarding the primitive look. Someone posted on their blog recently that they have noticed a lot of people are trading in the primitive look for something else.  I can sort of identify with this.  Although I love the history of the era ... & heaven knows I love having "old things" ... I can't help but feel that I'm living in a Cracker Barrel sometimes.  I've never been a person who likes clutter.  I feel overwhelmed by clutter now & as many of you know I haven't even unpacked all my stuff out of the boxes from when we moved here 3+ years ago!  Another thing that is kind of turning me off ... & I can't honestly say I'm "turned off" in the strictest sense because again I love the history & I love having "old things" & I love seeing them in other peoples homes (I really envy the flair some of you have for decorating in this style) ... but for me I look around my home just as it is now & I think how many sifters/wooden spoons/rolling pins/whisk brooms/butter churns/old bowls/etc are too many?  I have always found it ironic that the primitive motto is "Simplify" yet in many aspects there is nothing simplistic in this decorating trend at all.  The pioneers had one of everything they needed & they used what they had.  If they were able to have time traveled to this era they would've laughed themselves silly to see us stockpiling & displaying dozens of pieces of graniteware, shelves full of rusty spice tins, & empty old wooden boxes stacked in all the corners.  Please don't take this as criticism if you are a person who enjoys this type of decorating.  I am not criticizing you or your decorating choice at all!  I drool at the photos some of you post of your primitive homes!  I'm just saying that I have been thinking over the past year or so that this type of decorating really isn't me. In addition I started getting a bit miffed a while back at the fact that I would go into an antique shop or a peddlers mall & find people charging $35 for a plain rolling pin or $25 for a rusty, bent up flour sifter or $75 for a cracked jar with some sort of funky stain in the bottom.  I think this is why I haven't redecorated the top of my fridge yet.  Some of the things I have had up there I really don't want to have anymore.  My guess is that I am going to keep a few old things but find new homes for the overabundance.  What type of decorating trend am I going to follow instead?  It won't be anything in particular I'm sure ... probably a slight mixture of things I like, things that make me feel comfortable, things that, for me, make my surroundings "homey" & yes, some of those things will be primitive things ... just not all of them.  I've been thinking about this for a long time ... the goal now is to actually do something about it.  Then again I may change my mind about all of this tomorrow   : )

Sunday, July 22, 2012

The Dryer Lint Hypothesis & An Exchange Gift

I am thankful to everyone who has weighed in with their ideas regarding the origin of the fluff that has been plaguing our house since we moved in (see yesterday's post if you don't know what I'm talking about).  There are many reasons which I won't bother to go into right now that would make the dryer lint hypothesis implausible so my suspicion of it coming up through the floor vents is the only likely scenario I have at this time.  Many thanks to Marly for her screen/cheesecloth idea.

I've spent most of today making the house fluff free, then securing cheesecloth underneath each vent register.  If the fluff is indeed furnace/air conditioner related, the results by this time next week should be fluffless floors underneath the furniture & fluffless furniture legs as well.  I will keep you informed.

Yesterday I received my exchange package in the July Mini #1 - Surprise, Surprise swap which I participated in on Ravelry.  The person who received my name did a great job of sending me things I mentioned I would enjoy in my profile & swap questionnaire   : )  
I can't believe it's Sunday night already.  This weekend has really flown by.  Regrettably I haven't spent as much time stitching for IHSW as I had hoped but at least I got a few stitches in.  I will post about that tomorrow   : )

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Does Anyone Know What This Fluff Is?

For the past 3 years I have been dealing with this strange "fluff" ...

... not to be confused with this Fluff ...
... which is delicious to eat straight from the jar with a spoon or shoveled into a cup of hot cocoa or piled high on top of ice cream. You can't eat the fluff in the first photo. Well, I guess you could if you were bent on doing so, but why would you?  

Back to the question at hand.  Does anyone know what that fluff in the first photo is?  It is not a big dust bunny & it is not a conglomeration of Sophie hair.  It not only makes its home underneath dressers, beds, & other pieces of furniture ... blowing out into our walking paths from time to time ... but it adheres to the bottoms & sides of furniture legs as though it's adhering to fly paper.  It won't suck off with a vacuum cleaner, it won't dust off ... John has to literally get down on his hands & knees & crawl around on the floor to pry it off the furniture legs with his fingers.  

I am not a cleaning maniac but I am not a slovenly pig either.  I will tell you that I will clean my floors fluff free & a few days later there it is again ... fluff everywhere.  I have never seen this fluff anywhere else I've ever lived or visited & believe me, I've been around the block a few times.  When the air conditioner repair guy was here recently I scooped up a handful & asked him if he knew what it was ... was it perhaps coming from the air ducts?  He looked at it strangely & said he had no idea.  He said that it can't be from the air unit because the filters are designed to catch that kind of stuff.  

I've had wooden floors in the past but I never experienced fluff invasion until moving here.  I've likewise never had this problem with carpeted floors.  Why here?  Is it "a Kentucky thing?"  Are John & I breathing in some microscopic fluff that is akin to breathing in asbestos?  

If, along with me, you have no idea what this fluff is ... do you have any idea who I could contact to find out?            

Exchanges Received

Happy Saturday everyone!  I wanted to just stop by for a moment to share with you two exchange pieces I made recently that have been received.

I made this first one for my partner in a Ravelry exchange in a group called Tea Shop Swap.  We had to send at least one tea-related item & one handmade item.  For my handmade item I immediately thought of a design by Laura whose blog is The Little Stitcher.  The design is called Would You Like A Cup Of Tea?  I had a lot of fun stitching this as an RAK a couple months ago using Laura's suggested color palette.  I paired it with some primitive Old Salem linen which is beautifully hand stained by Isabella at The Primitive Hare.  You can see  a picture of how that stitched piece turned out here if you'd like.  My partner in the Tea Shop Swap indicated that her favorite color combination is brown & blue so I chose those colors with which to stitch the design & used antique white evenweave for the fabric.  I stuffed it with dried lavender.  I also sent my partner a tea wallet, a handmade (not by me) bookmark that reads "Happiness Is a Cup of Tea & a Good Book" (she loves to read as well as drink tea), & a canister of Kentucky tea.  

I also recently participated in a Stitched With Love patriotic exchange.  I stitched a Country Rustic Primitives design, Eagle & Alphabet Redwork Sampler, for my assigned person.  I stitched it on osnaburg.  Another fun stitch   : )   I also included 3 patriotic fat quarters, a Trilogy patriotic themed kit, a package of needles, & a box of Vanilla Caramel Truffle tea.  
In the SWL Patriotic exchange I received the following package from my partner Becky Gwynn.  Becky really spoiled me!  I love each & every item she sent   : )
These photos are all I have to show you for now   : )   Today I'm doing a bit of necessary housework but I'm keeping quiet as I do it because John is not feeling very well & is lying down taking a nap.  Once my housework is done I will snuggle down in my recliner & work on my IHSW stitching.      

Friday, July 20, 2012

Catching Up

It's been quite an eventful week.  Thankfully on Monday ... after 9 days without it ... our air conditioner was repaired & life became bearable again here inside our humble home.

We went shopping over the weekend for a new refrigerator & I found one that I thought I could be happy with.  This was no easy task since we only have 2 stores locally that sell appliances.  I don't like ice makers/water dispensers but it seems that 99% of all refrigerators come with them now-a-days so my choices were really limited.  I did find a fridge that had a freezer on the bottom (my favorite place for a freezer). It does have an ice maker but it doesn't take up any freezer space because it's built up above the freezer drawer itself.  Hooray!  It was delivered on Tuesday morning.  Here is a photo of my beauty ... I love it so   : )

Please excuse the mess in the photo including the mess reflected in the refrigerator doors ... lol!  If you look closely you can see Sophie snuggled down on a moving box near the staircase.  You can also see how the worthless piece of human flesh I hired to do some remodeling work before we moved in here never bothered to finish the staircase ... sadly one of the many, many examples of his lack of ability & lack of care.  There are many morals to this story including never hire someone to do a lot of work for you without first seeing how they handle one or two jobs, never pay someone for their work before they do it, & never trust anyone just because they act like they are your friend & talk about what a good Christian they are.

Incidentally, do you know there are refrigerators now with computer monitors built into them?  You can check the weather, read your emails, surf the internet for recipes, etc.  I think the refrigerator manufacturers are getting a little carried away.

On Wednesday I returned to my dentist due to continuing problems with the bridge that she began working on in January.  These problems baffle me because I have two other bridges which I had to have done more than 20 years ago & I never had a problem with them.  The dentist at that time popped them, I went home & that was that.  It was like they were my normal teeth which had been there forever.  Not so with this recent bridge.  I am actually on my second.  The first one seemed to be too big & there were a few other problems with it.  It was eventually ruined from the dentist shaving it down to try to get it to fit correctly.  It had to be returned to the company that made it & then two weeks later a new one was delivered.  This was temporarily cemented in & although there are some improvements I am now whistling when I talk as though I'm wearing a pair of bad dentures & one of the teeth does not meet flush with the gumline & so it is rough & annoying on the backside.  It also seems too short.  Instead of making an appointment & trying to explain the problems I was having I instead sent a letter to the dentist, complete with diagrams & a clear explanation of the problems I was experiencing, thinking it would be more helpful for her to have something in writing rather than for me to try to explain things to her during an appointment. When I went to see her on Wednesday she came into the examining room & she was not her usually smiling self.  I always kid around with her when I'm there so I jokingly said "Are you ready to make me dentures yet?"  She responded in a nasty sort of tone & said "What I am ready to do is remove that bridge, replace it with the temporary plastic one I made for you back in January, & refund your money."  I was quite shocked to hear her say this & I said "Then what am I supposed to do?" & she answered saying that she was very frustrated with how things have been going.  I think she then noticed the horrified look on my face because she made an effort to act like she was kidding & she said "I'm just kidding" but I think she was really serious which upsets me because I'm the one having to deal with all these problems, constantly going back for readjustments.  Does she think this is not frustrating for me?  I have certainly been more than patient   : (   She has shaved down my real teeth in front twice now trying to adjust my bite to accommodate the bridge.  I said to her "Isn't this a bad thing? Aren't you removing some of the enamel from my teeth?"  She agreed that it was not the best thing to do but I was having bite problems so she had to do something.  By shaving down these front teeth they are now very short & they look sort of funny.  I am worried that I am dealing with someone who may not know what she is doing   : (   After her "I'm just kidding" comment she acted concerned & tried to tell me I grind my teeth at night (I don't).  She made some more adjustments to the bridge, built up my lower teeth with bonding, & put a bit of bonding behind the tooth that was not flush with my gumline.  She said that if this didn't improve things then she would send the bridge back to the factory to have it remade again.  I keep thinking about her "frustrating" remark. Does she think I'm not frustrated?  Does she think I enjoy having to go back there so often?  Does she think I am making up issues just to get a new bridge made every couple months?  I am not happy   : (   She books 2 or 3 patients at the same time so that she is running between us & no one gets her full attention.  This is not right   : (   Right now the bridge is the best it has been with the exception of that tooth that doesn't lie flush with the gumline & I'm still whistling when I talk which means it's going to have to be removed & sent back to the manufacturer again to have it remade & all I can think of is what if there's something else wrong with it when she puts it in   : (      

After 6 or so weeks of no rain we have received a bunch of it over the past few days.  Things are getting green again & I am being able to avoid the nightly watering which gives me more time for fun stuff   : )   Unfortunately I haven't felt very well the past few days so I haven't accomplished a lot but I am working on another Sleigh Bells stitching.  It is IHSW this weekend (see my sidebar for the link) so I will be finishing this current Sleigh Bells & will perhaps stitch the other two Primitive Merry Christmas Cupboard Hangers I need to do yet.  Photos of previously completed stitchings of these can be seen here.  I also have an RAK to stitch but I need to tweak it a bit so I've got plenty to keep me busy   : )

I woke up at 3:30 this morning after having a horrible dream about going to a state park & lions chasing everyone.  I tried but couldn't get back to sleep after that so I have gotten an early start to the day.  Of course by the time the afternoon rolls around I will probably be napping for an hour or two   : )

Have a blessed day, my friends ... & a blessed weekend as well   : )    

Monday, July 16, 2012

Project Bags

This post is to tell you about an Etsy shop that is filled with wonderful project bags! The shop's name is Funtific & it is owned by Sandra Voss.

"Perfection" is not a word I use very often when describing someone's handmade items but trust me, Sandra's bags are perfection.  I first found her shop while searching for a knitting project bag that I needed to send to someone in a Ravelry exchange.  I searched various online sites & found some "okay" bags but this one particular bag that Sandra was offering seemed to be the right choice for the person whose name I had been assigned. I paid for the bag via PayPal, received a very nice acknowledgement of my order, & a few days later received the bag.  

To say I was "pleasantly surprised" is not even close to how I felt when I received the bag.  You know how you order handmade items & so often there is some little "something" ... sometimes more than one little "something" ... about them that just isn't right? Forget all the other types of handmades right now & let's just concentrate on sewn items.  I have ordered various sewn items in the past & there are usually uneven seams ... or maybe the sewing machine jammed up a bit while the crafter was doing some topstitching & she just ignored the messy lump of thread it left behind ... or she had to fit a larger pattern piece into a smaller pattern piece & instead of a smooth line of stitching she has left a pucker or two ... or perhaps the design is most definitely horizontal (a line of letters perhaps) or most definitely vertical (stripes for example) & rather than being careful to cut her fabric so that it flows evenly across or up & down the finished product she stitches it so that the line of letters is going uphill or the vertical stripes are slanted instead of straight up & down.  These things ... & any others you can possibly imagine ... are not a part of Sandra's bags.  Her pride of workmanship is outstanding & that is oh so refreshing in today's world.
I was so thrilled with the project bag I ordered for the person assigned to me in the Ravelry exchange that I ordered this one for myself.

This photo in no way shows how gorgeous this bag truly is.  Actually it's one of Sandra's shop photos.  She provides several views of each bag she sells.  If you are interested in seeing the other views of this bag, you can see them here.  The bag has various pockets inside including one with a zipper (!) & there is even a little fabric ring stitched near the top where you can attach your keys if you'd like!  The lining fabric beautifully compliments the main fabric of the bag.  The bag even comes with a small stitched needle case to hold double pointed needles or crochet hooks!  

Sandra doesn't only make knitting/crocheting project bags either!  She makes spindle bags for fiber spinners, needle roll up cases & organizers which are also handy for art paint brushes, cell phone cases you can slide onto your belt, & various gadget bags & cases.  I don't know this for sure but I'm guessing that if you described a type of bag you'd like to have, Sandra can maybe make it for you   : )   Don't hold her to that though ... remember, I am just guessing at this one   : ) 

So ... if you are in need of a project bag, I encourage you to pay a visit to Sandra's shop.  You won't be sorry   : )  

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Reading A Book With Wild Abandon

First off I will tell you that Wild Abandon is not my hippie cousin who I haven't seen since the 60s.  It is the term "wild abandon" that I am using in it's dictionary form which is to do something "in a completely uncontrolled way."  The possibility of succumbing to wild abandon is most often the reason why I avoid reading a good book.  It is difficult for me to enjoy a good book a little bit at a time in the same way it was & still is difficult for me to have just a few flying saucers from the box & then put the rest away for another time.

I know the box pictured above indicates that they are called Satellite Wafers, but to us kids who snuck away from St. Edward school in Blawnox, PA during recess times, lunch times, in all kinds of weather & made our way down the hill & across the street to Mrs. Sullivan's neighborhood store in order to spend our allowance money & lunch money on them, they were & will always be known as flying saucers ... but I digress. What was I talking about?  Oh yeah ... a good book.  
There are some books I can read over & over & over again & never get tired of them. Miss Read books are a good example.  I can almost recite the words by heart as I'm reading the stories but I am still enthralled by each & every one of them.  

There are some books I remember getting via the Scholastic Book Club promotion while attending St. Ed's, the name by which us kids referred to that fine institution.  All the books that I purchased from the club ... or actually my mother purchased for me ... were passed along to younger family members as time went along.  Some of them I really enjoyed & a few of them I remember to this day.  One was called The Middle Sister.  I don't remember anything at all about the story but I remember the cover perfectly. Another story I can't recall but I clearly remember the cover of the book was Sara Crewe.  One book that I remember very clearly, both cover & the story itself, was Mary Jane. Mary Jane was a black girl who was going to be entering the 7th grade in the fall.  The story was set during the time when segregation was beginning to be challenged & Mary Jane & her neighbor Fred made the decision to attend a previously all-white school near their homes.  It was a wonderfully written story which I read over & over & over again.  I remember that Mary Jane's mother took her shopping for school clothes & one of the things she bought was a straight skirt in gray wool.  It just so happened that I was going to be entering the 7th grade that next fall & when the time came to go clothes shopping I insisted on a straight skirt in gray wool.  Looks like I was easily influenced even back then   : )   I am happy to say that I did find this book in a used book store many, many years ago & grabbed it as though I was rescuing an old friend from drowning.  It's upstairs ... in a moving box ... underneath heaven only knows how many other boxes & stuck in the very back of a closet.  If I ever venture to empty that closet before we sell this house then I will have to dig it out & reunite with my old friend Mary Jane.  I found this photo of the book online.
Another book I loved & read just as much as Mary Jane was called The Charmed Circle. It was a hardback book so I know it wasn't purchased from the Scholastic Book Club. Wherever it came from, I identified in some respects with the main character who was a shy 14-year-old entering her first year of high school.  I remember the summer before I entered my first year of high school ... lying on the back porch with a tall glass of ice water & a box of saltine crackers reading this book from beginning to end & then immediately returning to the first page & beginning to read it again.  And I wonder why I grew up to look like the side of a barn! Here is an online photo of this book.
Anyway, I love reading a good book but I don't often give in to the desire to do so because life will stop until I reach the end. This is not a good thing if I also want to cross stitch something, knit something, cook/eat dinner, or engage in activities like washing my hair, brushing my teeth & taking a shower.  (Okay, I do engage in those last 3 activities without fail but the others will most certainly not take place.)  I know that on several blogs I follow the blog owners indicate they love to engage in reading as well as crafting.  I've always wondered how in the world they do this.  Apparently they are able to tear themselves away from a good story without a problem.  My proverbial hat is off to them.

It was with some trepidation that I purchased & began to read a new book a week or so ago.  It's a book that kind of centers around the world of knitting, written by an author who has written several books before using this same type of format.  
It's really like you're reading a book of blog entries.  I decided I would not have a problem with being able to put the book down after reading a blog type entry or two since the book in itself isn't an actual story.  I am about half way through the book & sure enough I can read a blog entry or two & then easily put it down & move on to something else.  Still, in the back of my mind while I'm reading I'm thinking "I should be cross stitching now" or "I should be working on my knitting."  

The moral of this blog post is this:  There's not enough time to do everything I want to do.  Perhaps when I get to heaven God will have a nice comfy chaise lounge waiting for me on my back porch along with a big glass of ice water that constantly replenishes itself, a never-ending supply of saltines (maybe even a never-ending supply of flying saucers!), & lots of good books & cross stitch supplies & knitting supplies & more, & He will say to me "Have fun Shirlee!  Eternity is forever!"  I look forward to that   : )  

Saturday, July 14, 2012

My First Knitting Exchange Included A Stitched Item

I recently participated in my first mini knitting exchange on Ravelry.  There are so many different kinds of exchanges over there that it boggles the mind.  This one was, as the name implies, a mini exchange which means you follow the theme & send just a few small items to the person assigned to you.  This exchange was called "Surprise! Surprise!" & you were to surprise your assigned person with a few of the things she listed on her questionnaire that she would like.  This particular exchange did not require a homemade gift but I decided to include one anyway.  I found this freebie pattern on The Sampler Girl's Blog & thought it would be fun to include.  I stuffed it with lavender (a favorite fragrance of my assigned person) & of course I added some of my beloved chenille trim   : )

I usually don't post a photo of the backing fabric I use when I make my finished pieces into something because it just doesn't seem important but I was pretty excited about the fabric I used to back this piece   : ) 
Yes, little skeins of knitting yarn!  Is that cute or what   : )   I have mentioned before that I used to be quite the quilter many years ago. I sold or gave away a lot of my stash (which I wish now I still had!) but I still have a dozen or so huge Rubbermaid containers full of various sized fabric cuts & I remembered having this fabric.  I finally found it grouped in with the whites (white backgrounds).  I had a nice sized square of it which provided the backing for this piece with some left over for another project one of these days.  I hope the recipient will enjoy this & the other goodies I sent to her   : )

Curses, Blessings, & He Said What?!?!?

Curse:  I am still without air conditioning. Kentucky businesses ... at least central Kentucky businesses ... at least 99.9% of the ones we've dealt with over the past 3 years ... can't be relied upon, trusted, or both.  We have dealt with our AC guys since we moved here (3 years ago) & they have always been "one of the good guys" so I was a little disappointed (okay ... more than a little) when they told me the new motor for our AC would be available the next day (Thursday) & they would pick it up & put it in that day. Thursday came & not only did they not show up, they didn't even bother to call to say they weren't coming    : (   Yesterday afternoon I did get a call (no apologies for not calling the day before) saying that the motor wasn't going to be delivered until Monday   : (   Jason (the owner of the company) said he'd be by to install it then.  I sure hope so.

Blessing:  After about 6 weeks of total dryness we got some rain!!!  A very good downpour that started Thursday night & lasted through yesterday afternoon!!!  It did cool things down a bit.  Temps are in the mid 80s now instead of the high 90s/low 100s but of course the humidity is pretty oppressive so ...

Curse:  ... no air conditioning plus high humidity equals Shirlee having difficulty breathing.    

Blessing:  Yesterday we ventured out to Big Lots, bought ourselves a fan & had a much more pleasant sleeping experience last night as a result.

Curse:  Our refrigerator is about ready to give up the ghost.  It was only 3 years old when we moved here.  I don't think the woman who owned this place ever cleaned it (along with the rest of the house ... oh the horror stories I could tell you) & one day I spent 8 hours scrubbing it out before I felt it was safe enough to store food in there.  Two days ago I opened the door & noticed some heat coming from the side of the door & the panel where the door touches when it's closed.  I'm not talking a little bit of heat ... I'm talking "burn your hand if you touch it" kind of heat.  I gave John the news that we'd better not buy more food right now, especially more food destined for the freezer, until we checked into this further. Last night the fridge started making these loud clicking noises & when I went to get a dish of ice cream I discovered the ice cream was sort of mashed potato consistency.  Not a good thing.  Today we get to venture out to find a new refrigerator.  I have no idea what I'll do with all the food if the current fridge dies before the new one gets here.  

He Said What?!?!?:  Moving to central Kentucky has been a nightmare for me.  Some of you know the reasons for this but to those of you who don't know the reasons I say "Believe me, I don't call it the devil's playground for nothing."  Yesterday I talked on the phone with my cousin in another state.  He told me that it's the practice of their local newspaper to each day print a quote from some sort of famous celebrity. He told me a recent quote was attributed to Orlando Bloom.  Orlando said that he never knew what southern hospitality was until he came to Kentucky.  I know that "southern hospitality" is supposedly something "good" but I looked up the definition to be sure.  The definition is this ... "The term southern hospitality implies that in comparison to people living in other parts of the United States, southerners are friendlier, more welcoming, & generous to strangers or guests."  Well, I suppose if you are Orlando Bloom you are treated with "southern hospitality" wherever you may go.

I wish all of you a wonderful weekend!  You know what I'll be doing ... looking for a new fridge but otherwise sitting in my recliner remaining completely immobile in order to not strain my poor lungs any further than they will be already.  I suspect I'll get a bit more stitching done than I otherwise would have so there you go ... even the darkest clouds have a bit of silver lining   : )

Thursday, July 12, 2012

An RAK from France & Some Stitching Knitting, & Other Stuff

I recently posted an RAK I made for my friend Paula in Portugal (you can see it here).  It's a BBD freebie design of the Eiffel Tower.  Paula & her husband adore Paris & they actually took a little trip there last month.  Little did I know that while she was there ... with all the other stuff she had to think about ... she thought of me   : )   I received this lovely postcard & cross stitch kit from her!  Of course she chose a winter design for me   : )   Thank you again Paula!  I love it!

Since our air conditioner broke down on Saturday (it is still broke down by the way ... the repairman who came yesterday had to order a new motor for it which he will have in his possession today & will then come here to give us life again) I have been trying not to exert too much energy.  Most of my time has been spent working on my stitching (knitting is just impossible in this oppressive heat without AC), reading, watching DVDs, & working at the computer.  I am waiting for a new chart to arrive in the mail which will be for my next RAK gift so in the meantime I decided to get back to the Christmas smalls ... the ones where I'm stitching 4 of each pattern so I can keep one & use the remaining 3 for gifts &/or sell them in my still nameless Etsy shop. These are all Country Rustic Primitives designs & all of them are/will be stitched on my still favorite stitching medium, osnaburg. This first design is called Sleigh Bells & even though the chart indicated that it would measure 11" x 4.5" when finished I didn't believe it ... lol!  I thought "I'm using osnaburg so it will be smaller."  Dumb bunny me .... my brain didn't wrap around the fact that the pattern designer stitches these designs on osnaburg! Duh! It looks to be a simple, straightforward design but of course I made an error in counting when I stitched the B. Not a huge error.  I was off by one.  I didn't realize this until I had only a few stitches left in that letter & saw they weren't meeting up. I have talked before about how OCD I am.  I struggled with the idea of having to frog all those tiny stitches.  Well, you'll be proud of me.  I decided that my fudging them a tiny bit in order to get everything to meet up would not in any way be noticed unless someone had the pattern chart in front of them & decided to closely critique my finished work.  I am happy with how it turned out but I'm not sure I'm going to make 3 more of these.  
I decided to put Sleigh Bells aside for the moment & move on to another "project of 4." My choice was Primitive Merry Christmas Cupboard Hanger.  I have finished the first & have started the second.  
In the blog post link I provided above I mentioned that my shawl was on life support.  When I came to the end of my first skein of yarn & was balling the second I noticed right away that the colors were just a tad paler in intensity compared to the first skein.  I put it aside for a while but each time I went back to it the difference was just too noticeable.  So ... here is my shawl now.
Having to un-knit 335 yards of yarn was not a happy task but I figure I've learned a very important lesson here which is that it is impossible to match the color saturation in 2 skeins of hand painted yarn, even when those 2 skeins are noted to be of the same dye lot.  Via Ravelry I was able to in essence trade the second ball of yarn for another yarn that I can use.  I will use the prior knitted yarn for a pair of socks.

I don't think I've mentioned this before but a Mennonite family recently opened a luncheon meats & cheeses shop about 6 miles from here.  They sell other things too like fresh baked goods, produce from their own garden, & various other things to eat or use in cooking.  John & I were thrilled when we found out about them because from prior experience in Tennessee we know that these shops sell Troyer luncheon meats & cheeses which, in our humble opinion, are the very best!  There is a basically similar shop, not owned by Mennonites, that sells Troyer brand products about 20 miles from here but having "the real thing" close to home is wonderful! It is so interesting to be inside the shop.  The entire family works there.  Even the small children have jobs to do.  I usually see the mother in the back of the shop where she is baking or cleaning vegetables & one of the children takes care of cutting the meats & cheeses & checking us out. Yesterday I noticed the father was in the back also. It was the first time I saw him in the shop.  They have fresh eggs (the chickens are in a barn right across from the shop) & there is a sign encouraging customers to ask about their fresh milk so I imagine there is a cow or two somewhere as well.  Their home is directly across the street.  The smallest girl is, I'm guessing, maybe 6 years old. Yesterday she was wearing a plain light brown dress along with her cap & she was barefoot.  Of course it was very hot yesterday.  The parking area is made of gravel.  We watched this little girl in her bare feet walk across the entire parking lot, walk across the paved street which I'm sure was hot enough to fry an egg on, & into her house without any problems.  I don't know how she did it.  John & I have a gravel driveway & if we take one step on it without shoes the pain is unbearable!  John said that the little girl probably walks around in her bare feet a lot of the time & has become used to it so that pain isn't an issue for her. I have read a lot of books about the Amish but I know pretty much nothing about the Mennonites.  I would love to get into a conversation with the mother but she is always so busy that I wouldn't want to bother her ... & what would I say to her anyway!  Picking her brain about the Mennonite life is probably not something she would care to participate in with a total stranger during her work day, if at all.  I'd like to get to know her though.  Perhaps that will be a future possibility.  In the meantime I am going to order a book or two from Amazon about the Mennonite life & see what I can discover.  

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Sometimes Life Is for the Birds

It has been ... & continues to be ... not a very pleasant few days for me.  Last Saturday morning with temperatures predicted to be over 100 degrees our air conditioner decided to stop working.  We could not call the repairman until Monday morning.  I called him first thing that morning & reached his voice mail.  I left a message & expected to hear from him within an hour or two.  This has always been his usual response time in the past.  However, on Monday night I still had not received a return call.  Yesterday John & I had to run a few errands in Lexington.  We left early in the morning & did not return home until about 2 o'clock in the afternoon.  Of course the repairman called while we were gone.  I called him back, reached his voice mail & left another message.  Hopefully he will call back this morning.

I haven't been doing much these past few days.  Knitting with a big pile of wool is definitely not a wise choice.  I have been doing some stitching though.  I will show photos in an upcoming post.

What I am going to share with you this morning are some bird photos!  News of our little birdbath ... probably the only birdbath in the devil's playground ... has spread like wildfire.  Sometimes there are 3 or 4 finches using the bath at the same time!  At other times different species of birds come to the bath & sometimes they act a bit selfish!  I've mentioned before that we have a pair of bluebirds who come to the yard but they are very hesitant to get close to the house. Apparently the temperatures are making them a little less cautious because I see them visiting the birdbath from time to time.  They are usually only there long enough to get a bit of a drink & then something spooks them & they fly away.  However, I guess the temperatures the other day were too much for them & a few other birds.  In as little as half a minute we had a robin, 3 finches, & the 2 bluebirds competing for the bath.  Mrs. Bluebird must've felt pretty sociable because she & Mrs. Finch had a nice conversation for a little while   : )

Here is a photo of a robin.  As in the last picture above, for some reason I always seem to capture at least one photo of a bird looking at me, probably wondering what that big human is looking at ... lol!  
I am pretty excited about my photos of this next visitor   : )   We rarely see hummingbirds here.  I know they are in the area & I have been wanting to buy a hummingbird feeder for quite some time but I can't find any I really like.  Well, John went to the grocery store on Monday & came home with a plant neither of us had seen before.  It's called a Montbretia.  I haven't taken a photo of the plant itself but here is a photo I borrowed from the internet.
It's really quite breathtaking!  The tag indicated it is a magnet for hummingbirds. We just sat the pot in the garden amongst the daylilies & hoped that maybe a hummingbird would find it.  We were both amazed & delighted when we looked out the door not even an hour later & found this little guy visiting!
As you can see, at this particular nanosecond he is wondering what that big human is looking at   : )   Taking photos of a hummingbird is not an easy task!  It's nearly impossible to focus on them because they flitter around so much & those wings never stop moving at what appears to be the speed of sound.  He left the plant & we hoped he would return to visit again which he did later that evening!  We are so in love with this plant that after our trip to Lexington yesterday we stopped at the grocery store & bought two more   : )   Not wanting to plant them right away (it's just way too hot) we put the pots together & hoped Wilbur (yes, we named him) would be back.  He did return & had a great time with the increased number of flowers   : )

At one point he must've needed a bit of a rest because he perched himself on one of the stems & gave me a pretty pose   : )
Getting to watch these little guys makes me think of that old saying, "the best things in life are free."  Perhaps "free" isn't quite the right thought though since it did cost us something to enjoy these visitors.  We had to buy the birdbath & we had to buy the Montbretias so perhaps the better saying would be something about money well spent. Whatever the saying, the enjoyment is a real gift   : )  

I hope you all find something to delight in today   : )   I know something I am going to delight in!  While typing this post I received a call from the repairman!  He is coming this afternoon to fix the air conditioner! Hallelujah!  I will feel like a human again rather than like a damp ogre   : )   

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

RAKs Received & My Shawl Is On Life Support

First the good news   : )   My May & June RAKs (which were mailed at the end of June) have been received!  I made my May RAK for Paula in Portugal.  Paula used to have a blog but it was hacked along with her email account.  She has gotten herself a new email address but she is probably not going to attempt to blog again   : (   Paula is in love with Paris & I really enjoyed stitching this BBD design for her   : )

For my June RAK I chose this pattern for Mouse (Tales of a Stitching Mouse).  The pattern is designed by Viola of The Little Stitcher.  Viola has some great patterns so do pay her a visit when you get the chance   : )   
I have just a wee bit of finishing to do on my July RAK & hopefully it will be winging its way to the intended party before the end of August   : )   I am also going to be starting another cross stitch project but ... you guessed it ... it's for an exchange so you'll have to wait to know what it is.

Now for the bad news   : (   I have been knitting away on my shawl & although it is slow going I am enjoying the process.  Last night I reached the end of my first skein of yarn so I got the next skein & began to make it into a ball.  As I was doing so I noticed that the colors seemed a bit odd compared to those of the skein I had just worked with. Both skeins were purchased at the same time from the same yarn shop, both have the same lot numbers, so hopefully it's just my eyes playing tricks on me.  I will join it to the first ball & keep on knitting & see how it goes.  I really don't want to tink the entire shawl (we tink in knitting, we frog in cross stitch) but that might be what I'll need to do. If so, I'll just put the balls away to use individually for some other projects one day & perhaps start another shawl, perhaps the same one using different yarns, or perhaps I'll start working on a pair of socks.  Hmmm ... just remembered that I need to make something for a knitting exchange!  Does anyone else hear David Bowie singing "Ex-ch-ch-ch-changes?"       

Happy 4th!!!

I wish everyone a very happy & safe 4th of July!

Many bloggers are posting photos of their patriotic decor so I thought I would post a few as well   : )

I have some great stuff in some of these boxes in the hall closet.

I'm certain there are some things in these boxes in particular ... the ones underneath that bag of pine cones.
There are definitely a few things in a box or two behind the ironing board here.
There are likewise some things in this closet. 
And there you have it!  I hope this post doesn't cause anyone to think I am a braggart & I apologize if anyone experiences any hurt feelings because of my decorating abilities.  I have a feeling these will be the photos of my autumn decorating as well. Christmas? Well, let's wait & see   : )