Thursday, December 31, 2009

A New Year...A New Adventure

Hard to believe that it is already 2010, isn't it? Seems like only yesterday we were all sweating over "Y2K" and what would happen with all the computers...and here we are a decade later.

2009 will be a year to remember for Eddie and me. More particularly, December, 2009 will stand out in our minds as the month when our lives took a giant shift in direction. On the Friday before Christmas, Eddie lost his job. We officially joined the ranks of those struggling with unemployment, trying to figure out how we could make things work from this point forward.

We are fortunate in that we have some savings, but we live in a small town in the Panhandle of Texas and jobs like the one my husband had are few and far between. I am blessed with a wonderful job as a legal assistant. My hours are flexible and the pay is good for a town of this size. But, Eddie was the big breadwinner, allowing my earnings to be used for fun, discretionary spending.

For the last two weeks, we have just been adjusting to the situation in which we find ourselves. We have done a lot of soul-searching and crunching of numbers and come to the conclusion that we need to make some major changes. We will have to radically change the "Plan" on which we had based our goals.

First off, we found ourselves questioning whether or not we should stay in Pampa. We have no more family living here since Eddie's youngest daughter went off to college in Oklahoma. The job situation is bad here, as is the economic situation overall. So, in the last few days, we have reached the first major decision in this new journey: we are going to relocate to Abilene. That's right, we will be moving back to my hometown. This is actually a silver lining to the storm surrounding us...we will be close to both of my parents, my daughter and her children, and one of my sons. Eddie has a sister living in Abilene, too. So, we will be close to family and in an area that is not as economically depressed as Pampa.

Of course, there are many, many steps to relocating. We have to sell this house we have grown to love. We will have to find new jobs. We will have to adjust our lifestyle greatly in the process. There is so much work to be done that it borders on being overwhelming. Yet, my heart beats with hope and optimism, eagerness to step out on this journey.

I will be chronicling this adventure here at Janie's Porch. The up's, the down's, the high's and the low's...you will be privy to all of it. Eddie and I have discussed it and agree that this is a great way to keep everyone informed and journal our lives during an exciting, yet tumultuous, time.

The fact that we step out in faith right here at the beginning of a new year, 2010, almost transcends belief. Isn't it wonderful that we have the opportunity to begin a chapter in our lives at the beginning of a new year? As we ring out the old and ring in the new this year, we are truly embarking on an epic adventure!

My prayer for you this year is that you will know God's peace and strength in your life when you face challenges.

With great hope...

Jane

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The True Meaning of Christmas

Well, Christmas is nearly here. My, how the few weeks since Thanksgiving have flown by this year! But, I guess we are just about as ready for the holiday as we can get around here.

We have finished the shopping. There are only a few last gifts to wrap and place under the tree. I still have a bit of baking to do, but the fudge is made. (Are you reading this, Daddy?) And now I have a bit more time to be still and reflect on the true meaning of this most holy of holidays...

Christmas will be different for us this year. Eddie and I have had some pretty big changes come upon us this last couple of weeks. There are big, life-changing decisions to be made and, although Christmas is in some ways the worst time of the year to have this happen, it is also the time of year when perhaps we are most receptive to God's reminders to us about what is truly important in Life.

Amid all the hustle and bustle of what Christmas has come to mean to the secular world, it is too easy to get caught up in the commercialism of the season and forget about the most precious Gift of all.

"For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord." - Luke 2:11



What a miracle the birth of Jesus was! God's only Son, come to Earth as a Man, to walk among us and pay the ultimate price for our sin. Imagine how wondrous must have been that humble birth in a stable; how bright the star leading the Way; how sweet the singing of the angels; and how precious the feel of a newborn baby in Mary's loving arms. Oh, don't you wish you could have been there?

My prayer for this season is two-fold:

* Deep Gratitude and Thanksgiving that God is teaching me so much more about the true meaning of Christmas, and

* Bountiful Blessings to all my Family and Friends, that they, too, will know the tremendous Gift bestowed upon them by a loving Father.

Take the time to savor the special moments of the Season! Enjoy time spent with those you love, the gifts, the lights, the traditions...but seek the stillness, the quiet, the joy...and listen for God to speak to your heart.

Warm Christmas Hugs,

Jane

Saturday, December 19, 2009

CrAfTiNg for ChRiStMaS!!!

Here is it...just a few days before Christmas. And I have finally completed a Christmas craft project!!! It's just been one of those years when time has gotten away from me. But, I saw this great gift idea on a couple of different blogs and just had to give it a try.

First off, I couldn't find any tiles here in our little town, so I asked Eddie to pick some up at Lowe's when he went over to Amarillo. I specifically asked for 'matte finish' tiles and these were the only ones he could find that he considered 'matte finish'. Uh, they weren't smooth...more like tumbled stone, kinda uneven...and I wasn't sure how they would work.



But, I forged on. A trip to Dollar General yielded some pretty tissue paper. The instructions I had seen called for cocktail napkins with a design that would fit on the tiles, so I was 'making do' again when I went with the tissue paper. But, at this point, I was beginning to get a vision in my head of how my project might turn out, even though it would be somewhat different from what I originally planned.



Next, I got some little felt pads in the hardward department of WalMart and a fresh bottle of ModPodge and spray polyurethane. The original directions called for cork to cover the bottom of the tiles, but, alas, I couldn't find any cork in this town either!



After covering the work surface of my dining room table (my most favorite crafting surface), I was ready to get busy!



I just cut squares of tissue paper and used the ModPodge to cover the tiles, top and sides. Once that was dry, I gave it two more coats of ModPodge, brushing the surface in one direction on the first coat, and across the other way on the second coat. See how it gives the finish the look of canvas??



After these dried overnight, I took them out to the garage for a couple of thin coats of spray polyurethane. After letting that dry overnight, I used hot glue to set the little felt pads on the corners of coaster bottoms. There's no way those little suckers are coming off!



Finally, on the third day, I put sets of four coasters together and tied them with pretty wired ribbon. I even used those little dollar store bells on some of the bows.



Voila! A perfect little gift for someone special at Christmas-time.



I was pleased with how these turned out. They aren't quite like the ones I had seen online, but I still like them. Just goes to show ya that you can use what you have (or what you can find) to modify a craft project and make it your very own!

Wishing you and yours a season filled with love and wonderful new memories!!

Jane

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Memories and Traditions...Where did the Time go?

With Christmas fast approaching, I am keenly feeling the effects of an empty nest. So much so, that I drug out my box of old photos last night and went browsing through them. (How DID we manage before digital cameras?!?!?)


Now that the kids are all grown and pretty much on their own (Eddie Dale and I have seven between us, ranging in ages from 18 to 29), there is so much I miss:

* The pitter-patter of excited little feet scurrying through the house.

* Finding bits of sticky candy cane here and there.

* The necessity of finding new hiding places for presents.

* Pictures with Santa and Christmas programs at Mother's Day Out and school.

I even miss all that penny-pinching and budgeting it took to help Santa out each year when the kids were younger!


I recall the simple traditions we had when there were little ones around. On Christmas Eve, I always prepared a big pot of stew and a skillet of cornbread for dinner. Then, after baths, the kids were dressed in warm and fleecy footy-pj's and loaded into the minivan. I would pop in a casette tape of Christmas music and we were off to cruise through town, looking at lights and scanning the skies to spot the red glow of Rudolph's nose. Upon arriving back home, we would open the presents under the tree and set out a plate of cookies for Santa (with a nice big carrot for the reindeer) and try to settle down enough to sleep.


Christmas mornings were joyous with children in the house, indeed! After the rush to the tree to see what wondrous things Santa left (I personally know that Santa had a very difficult time deciding whether to come to our house right after the children fell asleep or wait until morning and try to catch them still sleeping!), I would begin the preparation for a feast at midday. It never failed that there were toys scattered from one end of the house to the other and someone was always under foot as I rushed around the kitchen, but I wouldn't trade for those times.


Now, don't get me wrong! I love the traditions that Eddie Dale and I have established since we married six years ago. We still go look at the light displays and listen to Christmas music, just not always on Christmas Eve (thanks to his wacky shift schedule). And now we usually have all the pups loaded into the truck with us instead of kiddos. I still bake, and go all out with the decorating, and listen to Christmas music too loud! And I still love to sit in the floor with my grown children as they open each present, oohing and aahing (I just need help getting up!).

The Holidays have changed for us, it's true. But that's not a bad thing. Christmas is just a bit slower, perhaps a little less frenzied. We are reminded in different ways of the Blessings of The Season. Although I cherish those moments from Christmas Past that stand out in my memories, I treasure the moments of Christmas Present that will be my memories in Christmas Future.

What kind of special traditions do you have with your loved ones? Are you chasing little ones and hiding presents? Or are you at a place in your life when you slow down a bit and reflect a little more? Each stage in this journey known as life is unique and special. My holiday wish for you is that you find all the joy where you are in your life - right now.

Special Holiday Hugs,

Jane

Monday, December 7, 2009

Christmas Blessings and Simple Ideas

HoLiDaY GrEeTiNgS to one and all and a special WELCOME to all the SITSahood!!! I'm linking up to "The Secret's In The Sauce" over at http://www.thesitsgirls.com/ for Merry SITSmas 2009.

We are under three weeks on the CoUnTdOwN to ChRiStMaS...can you BeLiEvE that?!?!? I've been out there in BlogWorld, busily perusing all the fabulous ideas for crafting and decorating. So many Fabulous and Fantastic Ideas...I'm going into "sponge-mode-overload" trying to soak them all up!

I really haven't had just a whole lot of time to craft in recent years, but I wanted to show you a few of my FaVoRiTeS for this year. They're not all homemade...they're not all terribly crafty...but they all WoRk for Me!!!

My "Best Find" for this year is this beautiful red vase, which I picked up for $7.99 (nope, that's not a typo!) at Ross. I couldn't believe my luck when I spotted it AND got my hands on it before my Mother did!!! I simply filled it with a couple dozen old silver glass balls (already had these, don't we all?) and - voila - a beautiful piece that really makes a statement!





Next project: We had a need for a large centerpiece for the dining table that can be easily picked up and moved. I recently purchased a simple brown wooden serving tray at WalMart that I knew I wanted to use a the base. I took a cheap 9-foot artificial garland and wrapped it around a couple of times and shaped it to fit snugly down in the tray. Left-over silver beads and ornaments were just draped and snuggled into the greenery and a trio of silver candlesticks nestled in the center completed the arrangement. I just love the way this turned out and it's soooo easy to just grab it and move it when we need the table space!


Finally, I unwrapped these little pinecone trees I crafted a couple of years ago. I had the tiny clay pots, leftover from a project years ago, and transformed them with silver spray paint. Pinecones, gathered from our property, were simply tipped with glue, using a spongebrush, and dusted with silver glitter. A little dried spanish moss was tucked in the base and a pinecone hot-glued on top of that. How simple!


I made about a dozen of these one evening and have tucked them here and there as accent pieces to finish out little vignettes. Great fillers!


So, there you have it! These fun and simple decorations - some made and some bought -help brighten our country home for the Holiday Season.

You know, at this Special Time of the Year, Eddie Dale and I are feeling truly BLESSED. We have a wonderful home, our health, our awesome Family and Friends...too many BLESSINGS to list.


I wish for each and every one of you Abundant Blessings during this Season of JOY!!!

Jane

Check out other great DIY projects from BlogLand over at: http://asoftplace.net/

(Sorry, Kimba, can't get your button to load up over here!)

Saturday, December 5, 2009

**Lighting Up the Night**

Well, after braving frigid temps and a bitter ol' North wind, we have finally gotten the outdoor Christmas decorations up and burnin'!!!




Okay, so it took the two us the better part of two days (and Eddie working alone an extra afternoon) to git 'er done....but, just look at it!!! WE'RE ALL LIT UP!!!



Isn't it GRAND?!?!?! And oh so FABULOUS?!?!?!



We have a herd of deer grazing on the knoll in front of the house....



(Do NOT look at the electrical cords hanging from the deer....just pretend you do not see them!!!)




And a polar bear, complete with trees and presents....



And Frosty the Snowman....



And Lots and Lots of LIGHTS!!!!











So, we can just bundle up...and sit back and sip from our cuppa hot cocoa...and enjoy the view from the Porch!!!



Season's Best Wishes!!!

Jane

Thursday, December 3, 2009

DeCkEd OuT for ChRisTmAs!!!

'Tis the week after Thanksgiving, and the house is all decked out for Christmas!



It took me the better part of two days to sort through all the plastic bins, put together and shape trees, hang lights and garlands, and place all the ornaments...but, it's done! Now Eddie and I can sit back and enjoy the Christmas wonderland by treelight and candlelight.



In the living room, we have two trees. The main tree has its place in the corner by the piano. It branches are filled with many special ornaments, tipped with glass birds, shimmery poinsettias, and red and gold glass candles (my favorite Dollar General find this year!).


By the front window, we have our special Texas tree. It holds all the ornaments we have picked up from around the state and our western and Texas-themed ornaments. This is a treasured collection to two lovers of Texas History!


Our old-fashioned ranch house has the front door in the kitchen/dining area. We just love the welcome this provides and have placed a tree in the window right next to the door. Besides its candy-themed ribbons and bright red and green balls and glass beads, it is loaded with wooden ornaments, tin cookie cutters and many of the old-fashioned flocked ornaments I collected as a child. To top it off, candy canes are hung on the branches to be taken by visitors to our home (or one of us if a craving for peppermint strikes).


Back in my pink girlie retreat, a small alpine tree hung with aqua and blue glass balls sits atop my grandmother's cedar chest. I found some beautiful taupe ribbon with silver and aqua shimmer to top this little tree.


I love having a little bit of Christmas in every room of the house! I placed one of my grandmother's dishes filled with red, green and gold glass balls on the the dresser. The light from the lamp and a yummy-smelling candle reflect off the glass and add just the right touch.



Now, the porch hasn't undergone its transformation yet. Eddie has already begun stringing lights all around the trees and fences. This weekend, we will take out all the yard decorations and string multi-colored lights and white icicle lights around the roofline. Deer, snowmen, snowflakes and even a polar bear will make an appearance. And our house will be visible once again from the loop at the edge of town!

I'm linking up with Deck the Halls - http://www.thoughtsfromovertherainbow.blogspot.com/ - where you can get lots of great ideas and inspiration!

Happy Decorating!!!

Jane

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